Everyone’s waiting to see if the Taliban will be how they used to be. Will they modify and give women some degree of opportunities?
Afghanistan those days is a waiting game. And for Afghan women, the waiting game is agonizing.
The last time the Taliban held power, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, repression was a feature of their rule. This was especially true for women. Girls could not attend school; women could not hold jobs or leave their homes without a male relative accompanying them.
The Taliban, which enforced a strict version of Islamic law when they ran Afghanistan before 2001, retook full control of the country nine days ago.
Amid this takeover, Nelofer Pazira reflects on the strength and resilience of Afghan women.
Nelofer Pazira is an Afghan-Canadian director, actress, journalist, and writer. She grew up in Kabul; after living through ten years of Soviet occupation, she and her family fled to Pakistan in 1989, eventually ending up in Canada. In 1996 she returned to Afghanistan, a journey portrayed in the award-winning film Kandahar (2001). She went on to direct the documentary film Return to Kandahar (2003) and the film Act of Dishonour, about honor killing and the plight of refugees, which she also wrote.
As women, we have the strength to endure and tolerate a lot, but that doesn’t mean we have to. You could have all the strength to fight, but when you take away hope and close that door completely, that strength runs out.
The Taliban, however, proved that homegrown cruelty could be just as inhuman as the colonizer’s, and Pazira’s anguish as her country is taken over by religious fundamentalists is desperate.
If there’s a civil war, what choices will women have? That’s my plea to the outside world: instead of just talking about it, find genuine and meaningful ways to provide some degree of support for women.
A quote from her movie says:
“A woman in a miniskirt and stockings who’s trying to look sexy isn’t any different from a woman with a burka who’s trying to look mysterious.”
And this is what she thinks. A hijab and a miniskirt are both pieces of fabric and that’s what they should be seen as. The only thing she cares about is whether there’s a choice or not.