I knew how lucky I was to have other options, to be able to make the choice to leave a war without being a refugee. I had been given a Special Immigrant Visa for the U.S. and left Afghanistan in 2016, still haunted by guilt. I studied at college in Virginia. I wanted to pursue a career in education that would one day help me make more substantial changes in Afghanistan. I went on to study at Georgetown and Columbia universities and continued to tell myself that all of this was in aid of my life’s mission to work for, and with, Afghan women. But who knows when I will be able to return to Herat or Kabul now?
“Lingui, The Sacred Bonds,” by Chadian director-writer Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, is his first film with female leads. It’s a venture he takes to broach abortion, a subject that carries stigma and shame familiar to American audiences after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade.
When men feel superior to women, empowered by culture and the law, or the lack thereof, violence and bloodshed follow. By the time you finish reading this piece — and every 11 minutes thereafter — a woman will have been killed by someone she knew, even trusted.
Afghan women are strong, bright and resourceful, and even in the toughest situations we are able to take comfort from the beauty God bestows upon us. In Khas Kunar the Taliban could not stop me from hearing the flow of the local river, swollen by recent heavy rain. Nor could they tarnish the taste of the local cornbread and yogurt. But in all corners of Afghanistan it is getting harder for women in particular to hold on to any hope.
The Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” portrays two women who suddenly find themselves divorced in their 70s. Instead of remarrying, they enjoy the single life, something more and more boomer women do as they acknowledge the high costs of marriage.
We don’t want our country to be a playing field for games, great or small, by meddling neighbors or distant hegemons. You can instead respect our rights and sovereignty and see us as empowered people capable of helping ourselves, and the people around us, given a chance.
The Taliban’s newly formed interim cabinet doesn’t include any women. They have banned unauthorized protests and attacked journalists for reporting on them. Yet the protests have continued. The women are fierce. They are not content with simply preserving their rights, they are demanding leadership positions in any new government.