Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Ahghan women talk about the changes since the Taliban left.

She has since found a job as a clerical worker in the city's High Court where she works with men."I am so happy that I am able to work," said the 26-year-old. "In the Taliban period we were like birds in a cage. Even if we wore the burkha, we could not go to bazaar alone and feel free."

Her 22-year-old sister Frozan has resumed her studies at college, happy to have the chance to pick up the pieces of her education but bitter that so many of her formative years were spent at home."I lost six years of my life doing nothing. If the Taliban were still in power, I would still be stuck at home. I would have nothing to look forward to except getting married and having children, without any legal rights."

Even those who do not feel the change personally speak out.

But while the downfall of the Taliban may have transformed the lives of some women, for others it has brought little change. Mother-of-three Karima Saleh is delighted that her six-year-old daughter Mursal will have a chance to be educated, but feels there have been few other practical benefits. She still wears the all-encompassing burkha veil which has just a narrow lace grille for women to peer through.

The burkha was mandatory for women whenever they stepped outside under the Taliban regime. A glimpse of an ankle was sometimes enough to prompt the religious police to beat women on the spot. "For me there has been no big change in my life since the Taliban left," she told the agency. "I still wear the burkha as Islam says that women should be fully covered. Sometimes when the weather is so hot it is hard to wear, but that is what Islam says. The men in our family also emphasise that we should be fully covered," said the 30-year-old.

And unlike the whiners here Afghani government officials understand that changes will take time.

Sima Samar, the women's minister in the previous interim administration, said it was unrealistic to expect men's attitudes to be transformed overnight, but emphasised that the state should work to enshrine women's rights. "We should not forget that here has been 23 years of war. Significantly, the violations against women's rights were really huge but we cannot change it in six months," Samar, who now heads Afghanistan's human rights commission, told AFP. "We need a lot of time and effort to change the mentality."

< email | 10/03/2002 03:28:00 PM | link

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