Afghanistan’s forgotten second war
Battling intransigent male chauvinism that deprives women of even the most basic rights is the less highlighted second war that is neither being fought nor won
By Patricia Leidl | Published by Asian Conversations Magazine
One brilliantly clear day in November 2009 I had the privilege of sitting down and interviewing a young Afghan woman by the name of Hossai Setarah. Small, intense and very brave, she had just returned from Spin Boldak, a dusty border town huddled against the Durand line that nominally divides the Pashto speaking population of Afghanistan from their cousins living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. A hotbed of insurgency, extremism and violence, Waziristan is among the worst regions in the world to be born a female.
Every time Hossai made the long trip from Kandahar city by bus she feared not only for her own life, but the lives of the 200 women who she was teaching to read, write and calculate simple sums. If their fathers, sons, brothers or any other male kin discovered that their daughters, mothers or sisters were learning how to read and write they would kill them.