Behind the burqas

Thanks to Louise Dulude for bringing this to my attention.  It's an excellent article.

Afghanistan: Behind the burqas

by Tamar Dressler

“I know what they tell you in the West about the situation here,” Sahar Saab sighs despairingly. Saab, an activist with the women’s movement RAWA which operates almost underground in Afghanistan, adds, “They tell you women’s circumstances have improved greatly, but in reality there is no improvement. In the capital, Kabul, and in a few more cities, women even work in government offices, but their numbers are very few, and many dangers still ambush women in the cities. And in the suburbs? For their own safety, women continue to wear burqas. Almost daily, we hear of kidnappings, rape, murder, suicide and disappearance in areas still ruled by the Taliban or the Northern Alliance, and we know there are many more incidents not reported.”

Thus, in fluent English and a businesslike tone, free of criticism or attempts to shake up her listener with horror stories of the type of incidents the movement is trying to eradicate, Saab tells of the lives of women for whom leaving the house is a luxury.

“Officially the situation is better since the international forces arrived, but most of the new laws have not been assimilated. The condition of civilians, especially women and children, has deteriorated. In areas ruled by religious extremists, most women feel only a change for the worse. In the past five years, for example, the number of female suicides has increased significantly. If our situation is so improved – why the increase? We pay the full price of war and poverty.”

Three decades of underground activity

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), founded in Afghanistan in 1977 by a group of educated women led by Meena Keshwar-Kamal, fights for women’s rights, for their assimilation into the political system and the establishment of a democratic regime based on secular principles.

To read the rest of this article, go to:,2506,L-3332234,00.html


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