Sunday, March 11, 2012

Women’s Independence: Perception vs Reality

Sorry, for the lack of activity. I am visiting family and friends overseas and have been offline for the most part. Women's International Day has just passed and a friend who works with Asian Development Bank recently sent me an e-mail about her recent conference that she attended in Kabul.This prompted me to make this brief post. Westerners view of the borka is somewhat mistaken. Not that I wear one or a hijab, for that matter, but the intent behind the borka is not to oppress women. It is worn to protect them from prying eyes. How many of us have walked down the street and have workers whistle and call after us? Muslim women are free from this type of chauvinism as no one can see what they look like underneath the borka except female friends and their family when they are in their homes. In fact, when you read tislamic hadiths that was the intent of the prophet. To protect women from unwanted attention.  Ironically, this veiling of the body gives the wearer more freedom and is not really oppressive at all.

The women of Afghan present a different picture only because of the Taliban regime that enforced strict laws on women that went beyond what is found in islamic hadiths or the Quran. Women could not work nor go to school, even those who had already been educated and trained as skilled professionals were helpless to use their skills to help their countrymen.
My friend's colleague tells her that life is changing in Afghanistan. Not only politically, but culturally. Even he now understands that his wife has the right to voice her opinion and he is listening.
This International Women's Day, let us pray that all Afghan men continue to do the same and that the image of the Afghan woman will emerge as a blue clad independent women leading her country and religion away from the perception of the oppressed one that use to exist in its place.

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