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Life in Afghanistan Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Karis, Canada Dec 11, 2001
Human Rights , Culture   Opinions


Every two weeks I'd go and have a meeting with the Taliban Labour and Social Affairs Minister, to inform him on the progress of my projects and what was going on, so he wouldn't think I was trying to pull something over his eyes. Sometimes I just sat with the women, they'd bring their babies, and we'd all just talk. Other times, we'd work on documenting reports. Then I'd get driven to go and have meetings with the men. We'd discuss projects they were working on. I'd always try to go and have lunch with the women or men at the UN office, and lunch would be rice and beans, sometimes meat. We'd have great conversations about my life in Canada, we'd have conversations about how it was before the Taliban, and how they'd been brought up, what they were doing before, their hopes for their country, different views on religion.

The afternoon was kind of similar to the morning. Then I'd go home around 7 PM, sometimes stopping by another international' house. We would do a lot of recreational things (like shooting hoops and movies were always a big thing). The curfew was at 9 PM for all internationals. When I got home, I'd talk to the people that I lived with, write letters, and read a lot. I'd go out and look at the stars, because you got a great view there. Every day seemed like the last, which is good sometimes, but also frustrating because you feel like you're running around on a treadmill.Well, I'll use the city where I was as a little microcosm. It was hard for
a lot of women who used to work, to have their freedoms, their standard of living, and choices gone. Some of them were threatened or harassed. Some of them turned on each other, which is one of the saddest things. That was rare and that was understandable in a way, these are survival strategies. Women would tell me of the pillaging and raping before, which is partly why it was so easy for the Taliban to take over key cities, because they promised peace, in a way. A lot of women were wearing burqas before because it was traditional and part of the culture, but also because you didn't want military commanders and soldiers to see how attractive you might be. There was no law that they couldn't just go to your house, break in, and just take you or your daughter. But unlike before, now, women (and men) are under strict laws.It's fairly black and white to say 'Taliban, bad. Northern Alliance, good'. I'm not saying the Taliban are good, not at all, but I think people are in it for different reasons. You have those that are "fundamentalists'" and those who are opportunists. The Northern Alliance isn't as heroic, it's good that they got the Taliban out, but there's a lot of lawlessness. They don't know how to govern any better than the Taliban did. Moreover, what I think the media is missing, is that the Afghans were fighting against the Taliban, the repressive regime. Not with violence but with their own civil society groups. The women were organising amongst themselves to have their daughters be educated, men's' groups were organising themselves to support their wives and their families, to educate their sons, to put in wealth. I mean, community life was alive. We tend to have this view that they're just a bunch of passive people waiting for the U.S. or international governments to help them. If anything, they've been doing things on their own for many years, and they've always relied on themselves. I'd say the international community has disappointed them in many ways. We see women as victims, which they are, but not helpless. They've been doing a lot of things, and making change, and though we may see them as small and minuscule, it's the small things that matter. How you make change in your everyday life that permeates things on a bigger scale is important, and Afghan women are a great example of this. The fact that they could keep on working on a daily basis was so inspiring to me. Just because you don't use violence, and you don't rise up that way, doesn't mean that you support them and it doesn't mean that you're not being subversive. There are different forms of civil disobedience. Keeping your spirit and your hope alive is the most important kind, your vision of the future is the most important thing you can have in a place like that. I think that's something that's not come across in the media, and that frustrates me.

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sherani | Dec 8th, 2004
em an afghan..lisa's article is both good and humilaiting...humilaiting as the ppl from her world think of afghans as some different creatures..while the reality is that being an afghan is the most proud thing in this world...we are bestowed with...its this only thing that help us live and survive in very extreme situation.

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