Monday, 14 February 2011


Plane cancelled again... something about bad weather.

Nice and sunny hear though and instead we had a trip almost to the
Uzbeck border in search of some hot springs and a sulphur Gizer.
Impressively smelly ! :-)

It was nice to have a bit of time to chill out today. I had a good
chat with Shafika, Khalids older sister. She's had a hard life,
married at 14, 7 children, difficulties with in-laws, displaced by war
and violence and never had the chance for a formal education, . She
doesn't leave the house much but says she's a lot happier these days.

One of the reasons I wanted to come here was to meet Afghan women and
hear their stories. In the west we often here that Islamic countries
give no rights to women, the worst example of this being the Taliban
rule. Why on earth would my free and liberal friend Zahra possibly
want to go and live in a society like this? I think even she admits
that if the work she was doing here did not give her so much
satisfaction she wouldn't be able to stay. (That ....and she feel in
love! )

So whats the reality like? From what I've seen the ideal Afghan woman
today is one who covers her face, averts her gaze and maintains a
silence. This wasn't always the case, 40 years ago a women's status in
Afghan society was approaching equal to a man but more than 30 years
of war have had a huge cost on women's liberties.

Since coming here I haven't been out alone. This isn't just because I
am a security risk but there just aren't many women out walking alone
on the streets. Men don't approach but you feel their gaze and
comments. This is obviously less so in the more cosmopolitan areas but
this is definitely a mans world. Women have less educational and
employment opportunities and even though many more girls are going to
school, acid attacks have happened to girls as young as 6. All the
women in the hospital wanted baby boys and Zahra said their husbands
and inlaws would treat them badly and possibly even beat them if they.

I dont think this is all down to Islamic fundamentalism. Nor is it
just the men themselves, the women are some of the biggest mysogenists
according to Zahra. During the Mujahideen and Taliban times the
violence against women was barbaric. Khalid was an undercover activist
during the time and photographed many abuses, some of his photos can
be seen at

Enought of this serious email. Hopefully we will be going to Herat
tomorrow or Im going to start getting Cabin Fever!

Miss you all.



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