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STORIES FROM AFGHANISTAN

June 16, 2011 , , , , , , ,

A survey conducted by UK based Thompson Reuters Foundation ranks Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia the five most dangerous countries for women to live in. In these countries basic human rights are systematically denied to women. Though this might be the harsh reality for the majority of the women in these countries, the intent of the series of articles in Real Talkies, on each one of these nations is to showcase possibilities. The focus will be on the pioneers in these countries who break these concrete barriers and let the little girls dream, aspire and believe that anything is possible in their lives.

1. AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and 70-80 percent of women face forced early marriages. Opportunities for education, health access, reproductive health choice is minimal. Besides that women are victims of domestic violence and discriminatory laws.

AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED

In 2002/2003, AINA an organization founded by renowned photojournalist Reza Deghati (Iranian-French woman) began to educate and empower Afghan women in the use of media. 14 young women many of them in their teens were trained to operate cameras and travel to rural regions to Afghanistan and obtain unprecedented access to their country women. This resulted in the making of “Afghanistan unveiled”,  a documentary produced by an all-female production team in Afghanistan and was nominated for an 2005 Emmy Award.

Afghanistan Unveiled was televised extensively in the western world. It probably was very pleasing and compelling to tell the world look we went out there, over came the Taliban and liberated the group of women. Despite all of that, as someone who was born and brought up in a small town were every woman I knew was a homemaker, I can only imagine the sparkle in the eyes of the girls in the Afghani villages and small towns who were exposed to an alternative life choice. The impact that the 14 Afghani women with cameras would have had on the lives of thousands is priceless. Most of these women continue to function as video journalist and story tellers. Everyday they step out to document and share stories, they are inadvertently sowing  the seeds for the next generation of filmmakers.

ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS

In 2003 a 502 delegate Loya Jirga (grand council)  produced a constitution guaranteeing a place for women at the political table and gender equality for all as a basic right. Enemies of Happiness (or also called “A woman among warloads”) follows the campaign of Malalai Joya one of the country’s most famous and controversial woman, running in Afghanistan’s first democratic parliament elections in 2005 (after 35 years). Malai is an activist, writer and a critic of the Karzai administration. In 2010, Time magazine placed her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and most recently in 2011, “The Guardian” listed her among the top 100 women:activists and campaigners.

Afghan women had equality, freedom and rights. It is not like these women were oppressed for generations, the documentary “Afghan Women, the history of struggle” explores historical events that led to the deterioration of the status of women in their society.

AFGHAN WOMEN THE HISTORY OF STRUGGLE

Afghan Women: A History of Struggle challenges mainstream media’s portrayal of Afghanistan’s female population, unveiling the hidden revolutionary achievements of a much-stereotyped women’s culture.

The next two documentaries Thread and Half Value life, shares stories of women who are trying to rebuild their lives, enter the work force and be a part of their nation’s restructuring efforts in the economic and legislative fronts.

THREAD

Thread tells the inspirational story of 5 remarkable Afghan women who are taking control of their lives and their futures and in the process, are helping to rebuild their devastated country.

HALF VALUE LIFE

Half Value Life is a documentary that explores the work of the first Afghani-Hindu women’s right activist working for the elimination of violence against women. The documentary highlights the investigative cases of young girls in forced marriages and in abusive marriages. The 49 minute version of the film can be watched online in www.cultureunplugged.com.

All of the above documentaries do not understate the dangers and resistance experienced by these women but it just reiterates the fact that anything is possible and there are numerous women who are doing everything to change the status quo.

PS: Please share documentaries about women in Afghan to add to this list.

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  1. INDIA: THE MISSING GIRLS – A SOCIETY OUT OF BALANCE | Real Talkies reblogged this and added:

    […] survey conducted by UK based Thompson Reuters Foundation ranks Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia the five most dangerous countries for women to live in. In […]

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