Under the thumb of Islam — Women in Afghanistan

Afghanistan. Infamous for the Burqa or Chidori. It’s the land that the Taliban made famous by oppressing women. The famous scene of the woman being shot with an AK-47 by a cold and heartless talib. The women here are a mystery to me. I’ve met a couple. One who spoke almost no English. One who had lived in exile with her family in London and returned briefly to live with her Aunt and Uncle.

Walking around Kabul, you see Afghani women covered from head to toe in the burqa or chidari. You’ll see women covering themselves with the hijab. Occasionally, you see Afghan women who go uncovered in public. It’s rare. Usually she will be from a family who had spent time outside of Afghanistan during the past 30 years of war. Families who have adopted a Western and liberal attitude.

What I find ludicrous about the whole hijab, burqa, chidori tradition is that it is in no way a choice of the woman. If you ask an Afghani male, he will usually tell you that she is wearing it because of her family or her husband. “If you have a beautiful wife and you don’t want other men looking at her, you tell her to cover herself.” “Her family is traditional so they tell her to cover herself.” Men in Afghanistan think that it is a stain upon their honor if other men look at their wives. Somehow that blame is transferred to the women. It is their fault that men find them attractive. Therefore, the women must cover themselves.

The Arab Islamic attitude with which I have become acquainted is even more weak of mind and spirit. If a woman is raped, it is her fault because she put herself in that situation. She put herself in that situation because she allowed herself to be alone with a man not of her family. It’s her fault because she went uncovered. It’s her fault because she wore tight, form fitting clothing as opposed to the loose clothing prescribed by Allah and Muhammad. The man shares no blame even though he committed the heinous act. It’s not the man’s fault that he raped her. He couldn’t help himself because he was overcome with lust. His weakness is forgiven. Tolerated. Excused. In my opinion, that weakness of spirit is encouraged in the Arab Islamic tradition. We are to believe that Muslim men have no more control over their lust than toddlers have over their bowel movements? This attitude towards women spreads with Islam. In Islam, women are objects to be controlled, owned, traded, bartered for and sold away. Mere property at the whim and mercy of men. Yet, we are told that women have rights in Islam.

In accordance with Islamic sharee’ah, women who are raped must have four male witnesses. If these four witnesses are not forthcoming and the woman admits that she is raped, she is guilty of adultery. Punishable by death. If she is not put to death then she is exiled from family and community.

This is Islamic Justice!

An interesting story illustrates the attitudes of Islamic men towards women. I was driving around Kabul with an Afghani. As usual, I was taking pictures. Each time I took a picture of a woman, he would get upset and grunt or in some way express his disapproval to me indirectly. Finally, I asked him what the problem was. He told me that I should not be taking pictures of women. His real problem was that I was taking pictures of Afghani women. Islamic women. Yet this same man carries around a phone with a gigabyte of hardcore porn which he will show you in the manner of a bragging adolescent. I mean hardcore as in animals and women. I told him that he was a hypocrite. I offered a deal. I would stop taking pictures of Afghan women if he would erase all of his porn. Of course, he balked. I told him to shut up and drive. lol

Another ludicrous example of the traditions here and elsewhere in the world of Islam. I met a young woman who had lived most of her life in Switzerland. She had gone to all western schools from grade school through University. Her family moved back to Afghanistan a couple of years ago. They spent most of their family money in the process of returning. This girl is quite beautiful. So her father used her beauty to form a business partnership. She is to be married to a man in his 60s. She will be his second wife. Expected to give him the son that his first wife had yet to produce. She has a degree in mathematics that will be for naught as her husband to be is a traditionalist. She will be required to wear a chidari and will not be allowed to leave the house much less hold a job. Once she stepped back inside the world of Islam, she became property. She has no choice in this matter. No say.

This is the world of Islam. The justice that Islam affords women.

These are Islams victims. Future and present.


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NGO volunteers from London pose with their students in Kabul.

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As mysterious as she is beautiful.

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Hijab, Chidari, Burqa … the arrogance and folly of Islamic men. Why would you cause to be hidden such beauty.

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