Friday, March 31, 2006

Afghanistan: Cut From Different Cloth - Burqas and Beliefs

The other day on PBS they had a program on called Afghanistan: Cut From Different Cloth - Burqas and Beliefs (2005)

We are always being told how the US liberated the Afghan women from the burka, and how much for the positive things have changed. This film was done in 2005 -- long after the invasion and subsequent invasion of Iraq. The major character is a young woman who is 28-- same age as an Afghan girl who is educated ( only 5% of Afghan women are educated ), has worked with Doctors without Borders, etc. It goes into how things really have not changed -- except who is in charge.

The 2 parts that caught my attention were these:

Women are not allowed to have ANY contact with men or boys. They can meet at family functions but the women are relegated to the back rooms. If a girl is caught seeing a boy -- it becomes a family disgrace. The family normally will kill the daughter -- not the boy -- only the daughter because she has embarrassed the family. The sister of the young Afghan lady was asked if she felt her family would do an honor killing if she was to be found with a boy. She laughed and said YES. The American girl said -- no really -- seriously -- do you think your family would kill you. The sister got very serious and said yes -- the young American was totally shocked at the answer.

The second attention getter was in talking with an Afghan activist. She talked about how 30+ years ago women worked in every job a man did. They were treated with respect and had rights. She said that the government -- Taliban -- has removed those memories by systematic killing, and regression in the laws to where women have lost all the rights they had years earlier and there is NO memory of what women did do or have. So due to the closed society that women are forced to live in they have no idea that in the past Afghan women were relatively free.

That last one really caught my attention -- because as a woman who fought hard to break a lot of anti- women barriers over the years I have watched the government under those in charge slowly remove the rights of women -- ever so slowly but in itself they are being removed. I hope that every one of you will tell the young women in your lives they must continue to be vigilant and never ever forget what we of the 50's, 60's and 70's fought for.

Never say Never -- It has happened elsewhere.


Sandy wrote to the filmmakers and got this reply:

> Sandy,
> thank you for taking a moment to contact us about our
> documentary film.
> my husband, cliff, and my step-daughter serena did
> this as a labor of love for all the wonderful women we
> have met in afghanistan.
> we want to keep world attention going to the fact that
> women are NOT equal and NOT able to enjoy their
> constitutionaol rights.
> thanks for watching and i hope you can help spread the
> word about the real situation for women that our own
> government is downplaying.
> olga shalygin orloff


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