Ghosts of War

Since an unknown period, women are treated as but miserable objects of constant exploitation. This exploitation has various forms in different cultures. In orient, for instance, women is something to be controlled and oppressed by man while in the western world, she is but a sexualized object. Such perception of exploiting women has a long tradition. Starting from time immemorial to Spanish inquisition to horizontal collaboration of shaving women's hair in France to modern public beatings of women by self proclaimed defenders of Islam-Taliban, we have seen women at the receiving end of constant persecutions. It is this constant suffering, and only this unending suffering, besides the current political developments in Afghanistan that forced me to avoid my personal problems of disabilities this time and write something about this historically oppressed "being". Also, I used the word "ghosts" for these persecuted women because these victims are constantly disturbing our unending silence.

Another reason of writing about the current unfolding of events in Afghanistan is that it is really difficult for people, who live in wealthy countries, to imagine life in a war-torn country where tragic events happen fast and sometimes too fast. This prevailing confusion in western world has a lot to do with the reality in western world where the most discussed problems are relationships, money or having no plans for Saturday nights or vacations. In such kind of mind-set, it is always difficult to imagine life in a way which is completely different than life in other parts of the world. It is, however, unfortunate that not only people in the west fail to connect different dots of history to understand present but also the people who experience tragedies in the east misunderstand the development of history and fail to comprehend the current situation in Afghanistan.

Based on my personal understanding of history, I believe that it is really important for us to look at the political events in a different way than one has been informed by main stream, dominant media. For instance, modern media has shown us the monstrous image of Taliban without giving us any evidence from past. Zbigniew Brzezinski, US National Security Advisor, for instance, was filmed before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 80's wherein he was publicly supporting militants ( This support was backed by various global players including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. However, after the fall of Soviet Union, US went back and a civil war started in Afghanistan. After the tragedy of 9/11, US blamed the same Taliban for these attacks and invaded Afghanistan. The same allies of US, who were labelled as Mujahedeen in 80's, became enemies with a new name such as Al-Qaida and Taliban after 9/11. All these militants were called as terrorists by the media of the whole world after 9/11. Our own country-Pakistan, started earning billions of dollars from war on terror. They also attacked all those areas in Pakistan where they created Mujahedeen in 80's who were labelled as terrorists in this new game of war on terror. This changing role of humans from Freedom fighters in 80's to terrorist in 2000 and now allies in 2021 (because US made peace agreement with Taliban in Qatar) explains a lot about our understanding of history, political systems and the constant lies supplied to us by our main stream media. ( ) Furthermore, all these regimes defines sinners and saints according to their needs in order to justify their existence. This change in regime besides suffering of women is quintessentially explained by Milos Forman's "Goya's ghosts".

In order to explain the effects of changing political systems on individual life, I will explain Milos Forman's "Goya's ghosts". One reason of selecting this movie is that every individual in a war-torn country under-goes through different kinds of sufferings.

Milos Forman's select the most turbulent phase of European history especially Spain between the years 1792 and 1809. The young bourgeois daughter Inés is the muse of the painter Francisco de Goya , who works as a court painter. The Inquisition falsely accuses them of heresy . Inés is arrested and tortured. Despite requests from Goya and Inés' parents, she is not released. The priest Lorenzo takes advantage of Inés' helpless situation and rapes those who are vegetating in the dungeon several times. Inés' parents ambush Lorenzo and use torture methods similar to those used by the Inquisition to force him to sign a document stating that he is a monkey to prove the nonsense of confessions obtained under torture. When this document is published by Inés' father, Lorenzo is declared a heretic by the church and has to flee Spain.

Fifteen years later, when Napoleon invades Spain, Lorenzo, Goya and Inés meet again. Lorenzo has become an advocate of the ideals of the French Revolution in France develops and returns as chief prosecutor against the Inquisition. Inés, who was released when the Inquisition dungeons opened, finds that her family was killed in the turmoil of the occupation. She goes to Goya. It turns out that Lorenzo and Inés have daughter Alicia, a prostitute who was born after being raped in prison. Lorenzo succeeds in preventing the two from reuniting further by admitting Inés to a mental hospital and later having Alicia captured along with other prostitutes. When then the British under Wellington cross the Spanish border, Lorenzo is captured on the run and sentenced to death by the rehabilitated dignitaries of the Inquisition. Inés, meanwhile mentally deranged, cheers him at the execution, an abandoned child in her arms that she thinks is her daughter. Alicia is also present at the execution, in fine clothing and at the side of a British officer from the balcony of an elegant palace. In the final scene, Inés follows the hangman's cart through a side street in the city, holding the dead Lorenzo's hand and followed by the decrepit and limping Goya.

The movie does not only explain the fast development of events but also the changing attitude towards people under different regimes. The same situation is happening right now in different parts of the world. It is, thus, important to look at the history from the experiences of the victims and not the winners. As Foucault already explained that power creates knowledge and so is the case with the winners and losers of war. In order to dig the deeply buried lies of Afghan war, we need to look at the experiences of common and persecuted people especially women under different regimes to be able to understand the reality.