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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Hey, girl. Ryan Gosling likes libraries, too.

International News

This is why we fight: Afghan woman jailed for adultery will be released from her 12 year sentence if she marries her rapist. Yifat Susskind, the Executive Director of MADRE, has written a wonderful response to Gulnaz’s case.

National News

Good news: Senator Reid introduces the Girls Protection Act to prevent female genital mutilation. I wrote about the 2010 version of this bill as a blogger a change.org.

More good news: the FBI is finally updating its definition of rape.

It’s time to reauthorize VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act).VAWA provides funding for the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases, and support for shelters, rape crisis centers, and support for domestic violence survivors. Unfortunately, not enough: the reauthorization calls for a $144 million reduction in funding for five years; in that same period, domestic violence will cost our society about $30 billion.

I know you’re shocked: USC study finds women are underrepresented and over-sexualized in Hollywood movies.

Maine News

Lots of talk about Gov. LePage’s budget proposal to screw poor people, I mean, drastically cut MaineCare and other vital services like Head Start and discount medicine for the elderly.

There’s a rally against these cuts at the State House Hall of Flags Wednesday Dec. 14th at noon.

Things that Make Me Happy

We Bought a Z00 twitter feed! Sample tweets:

  • Ben Affleck just called to tell me he bought an aquarium. Hahaha. Idiot.
  • No, but we have a muskrat that holds a boombox over his head. “@paulardoin@WEBOUGHTAZ00 Do you have a Manic Pixie Dream Hippo?”
  • Zoos should not be SOMETHING BORROWED. Zoos should be BOUGHT. #KateHudson #AlmostFamous #Zoos
  • And on that note, Kate Hudson is not invited into our zoo. No matter what the damn orangutans tell you.
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Some Republicans have been arguing that the reason job growth is slow is because businesses are not investing and expanding, and they are not investing and expanding because of regulations. Paul Krugman clearly and directly explains why this is false: SPOILER ALERT–“The truth is that we’re in this mess because we had too little regulation, not too much. And now one of our two major parties is determined to double down on the mistakes that caused the disaster.”

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Fawzia Koofi, a member of the Afghan Parliament (and she plans to run for president in 2014!) has a piece in the Guardian about democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan: “Afghan women would not be where we are without British support. Do not let the Taliban take our cherished rights away.”

On its facebook page, the Family Violence Project discussed a Boston Globe article about the murder of a young woman by her boyfriend: DA says suspect killed for love. FVP makes the point that abusers do not kill for love, they kill for hate: “Men who abuse, men who kill, men who are violent in their homes — they are in love with themselves, with their power, and with their sense of their own loss in this world. Abusers are obsessed with themselves and their own victim hood.”

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The Four Word Review: Girls persevere despite Taliban

The Grade: A-

Makes Me Want to Read: more about Afghanistan and women’s rights there

My Thoughts: I’m drawn to books about Afghanistan and as a feminist and former women’s studies student, a book about sisters secretly running their own business to survive Taliban-era Kabul is written for me.

After the Taliban take Kabul in 1996, Kamila Sidiqi’s parents are forced to flee to the north. Her father was in the military under previous regimes and the family fears for his life if he remains in Kabul. However, travel is extremely dangerous and it is thought to be safer for the children to remain in Kabul. At this point Kamila is maybe 20 years old and is now responsible for her four younger sisters and her younger brother. She asks her older sister to teach her how to sew so that she and her younger sisters can begin a dressmaking business. Under Taliban edicts, women are essentially prisoners in their own homes. The girls are desperate for work and Kamila correctly believes that the dressmaking business will give them a purpose, and provide much needed income for the family.

Thus begins a small, family-owned business that soon grows to include more than 30 women as well as school to train women to be seamstresses. The Sidiqi home becomes a haven for the young women of the Khair Khana neighborhood of Kabul. Comments one young woman after her first day, “It’s not even like being in Kabul City…It feels like a place where there’s no Taliban at all, and no fighting. There are just all these women working together and talking and sharing stories. It’s wonderful.”

Kamila not only creates a thriving business, she creates a community, each desperately needed in late 1990’s Kabul. The horrors of life under the Taliban are addressed, but The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is not as graphic as A Thousand Splendid Suns. Suns is a wonderful book–a friend of mine from Afghanistan recommended it, telling me it was a very good depiction of life under the Taliban, and I’ve no doubt this is true. But because it describes such horrific events in great detail, I would hesitate in giving it to my younger cousins. In both books, I found myself murmuring to the characters, “Just hold on. Three more years. Two more years. Just get to September 2001. Help is coming.”

Help is coming, but Kamila also helps herself. She takes risks, she provides for her family and her community, she teaches the next generation and she never gives up. In short, she is inspiring and I’m so glad Lemmon has told her story. Kamila is a wonderful example to all of us of the power of an individual, the importance of hard work and optimism–I would give her story to my younger cousins in an instant.

On her last reporting trip to Afghanistan in 2009, Lemmon met with one of Kamila’s brothers, who thanked her profusely for telling his sister’s story:

I realized that Kamila’s brother understood better than I did why, at this moment, telling his sister’s story matters so much. Brave young women complete heroic acts every day, with no one bearing witness. This was a chance to even the ledger, to share on small story that made the difference between starvation and survival for the families whose lives it changed. I wanted to pull the curtain back for readers on a place foreigners know more for its rocket attacks and roadside bombs than its countless quiet feats of courage. And to introduce them to the young women like Kamila Sidiqi who will go on. No matter what (229).

I’ve already been affected by Kamila in a small way: with my mother’s assistance, I’ve been making wedding gifts for friends who are getting married at the end of the month, and a blanket for a friend expecting her first child, a daughter, in September.

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Four word review: very nice Kabul novel

The Grade: B+

Makes me want to read: The Man Who Would Be King and one of Malalai Joya’s books

My thoughts: I have an interest in Afghanistan, especially Kabul. Two dear friends from school are Afghan and one still lives in Kabul. I saw this in a bookstore and was drawn to the cover. When I read it was set in Kabul, I was even more interested. Then I read that the author is the woman who wrote Kabul Beauty School, and there was some controversy surrounding that book. If I remember critics accused Rodriguez of not properly disguising the women she wrote about, thus making them vulnerable to attack, and of not sharing any of the money made with the women of the beauty school.

But A Cup of Friendship is a novel, a work of fiction, and was available as an ebook from my local library, so I downloaded it to my iPad and began reading.  I devoured it in a few days. The writing is breezy and engaging, the characters are stock characters (the passionate journalist, the well-intentioned by naive American do-gooder, the modern Afghan woman and her conservative son, etc.) but perhaps because of the easily identifiable characteristics, I sympathized and cared for them, even as a cursed the traditionalist son for being so rigid and foolish.

Highlight of the book: Sunny, owner of the coffee shop, travels to Mazar e Sharif and visits the Blue Mosque, also known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali. It sounds absolutely beautiful, and coupled with the tale of the white doves, it is definitely on my to-see list. May we someday have peace in Afghanistan.

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