Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the social and moral situation is distressing. In only 10 days, Afghanistan is going back 20 years. Women’s emancipation has been burned to the ground. The international community struggles to react effectively for fear of reprisals. Everyone flees. On the media, the chaos resounds internationally and is indignant. Several countries have undertaken solidarity actions to show support and with the hope of encouraging the women in Afghanistan, prisoners of their own government.
Women, erased from society by the Taliban
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, twenty years after they were ousted. This group of extremists claim to be more “mature” and “thoughtful” than in 1996. Armed with communication tactics, they “reassure” the population that their basic rights will be respected. On December 3, the supreme leader of the Taliban movement asked the government to “take serious measures to ensure respect for women’s rights” and to fight against forced marriages of Afghan women.
However, since mid-August, the majority of Afghan women have been deprived of their profession, except for those working in the health sector. They can no longer travel alone. Beyond 72 kilometers, they must be accompanied by a mahram (male guardian), girls over 12 years old are forbidden to continue their studies, Afghan women are completely censored from television screens, no exhibition must be dedicated to them, according to Taliban laws. The Afghan Republic has been transformed into a repressive and deeply unequal Emirate.
The different forms of support dedicated to Afghan women
The rest of the world is baffled by such a step backwards. The initiatives of support are heard particularly in the sectors of art, literature or gastronomy. Here is a zoom of relevant and progressive solidarity actions.
Art: An exhibition dedicated to Afghan women on the Champs Elysées avenue
On the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, one of the busiest places in the world, a photography exhibition on Afghan women has been installed. In collaboration with the media ELLE, these photo reports testify to the new life of women in Afghanistan since the Taliban are in power. This exhibition serves as a tribute to their freedom. The pictures are captured by the French photographer Philippe Poulpiquet, who has brilliantly represented the anguish and fear felt on there. We can also see the look of resistance with an ounce of hope. What could be more ideal than photography to face reality?
Fashion: Timothé Chalamet and Haider Ackermann’s sweatshirt collection to support women in Afghanistan
Timothée Chalamet, one of the most influential actors of the new generation, undertakes a solidarity collection for Afghan women with the French designer Haider Ackermann. A comfortable everyday garment, it is the hoodie they decide to use to raise money. It is white, with a blue tint, and shows a distressed female gaze asking for help. The totality of the profits of the sweatshirt is donated to Afghanistan Libre, the reference association to protect and honor the rights of women and young girls in the country. The sweatshirt is available on HATC 2021 .
Gastronomy: In Paris, a solidarity dinner organized for the cause of women in Afghanistan
Since August 15, 2021, the association “Enfants d’Afghanistan et d’ailleurs” (“The children of Afghanistan and elsewhere”) has managed to save several dozen Afghan women threatened with death by the Taliban, by exfiltrating them. They were then accompanied in their exile and in their integration in France. A few months later, the association co-organized a solidarity dinner with the chefs of the moment in order to raise money and continue their fight. A round table preceded the dinner in the presence of the president of the association and other concerned actors (Afghan writer, journalists, etc.) in order to elucidate solutions and debate on the situation in Afghanistan. The dinner dishes are inspired by Afghan culture but cooked and prepared by experienced French chefs. All profits are donated to the association “Les Enfants d’Afghanistan et d’ailleurs”. The meal took place in September 2021 in Paris, with a value of 50€ (56 $) per person.
Literature: “Toutes Afghanes” (“All Afghan” conjugated to the feminine), a book on the injustice and extinction of women’s rights in Afghanistan
Several French personalities, including the great names of literature, journalism and diplomacy, are taking a pen to show their support. This collection contains personalized and fraternal declarations towards this humanitarian crisis that Afghan women, children and men are undergoing.
Here is a short excerpt: “They were journalists, doctors, lawyers, magistrates, artists, translators, diplomats. Until a few months ago, they were women, daughters, sisters, wives, comrades, friends, colleagues. Since the return of the Taliban and the establishment of Sharia law, they have become chattels, wombs, ghosts without words and without rights. Their lives no longer belong to them, and it is the whole of humanity that bleeds. Afghan women beg the world not to forget them. We are not the world, but we do not forget them.” Again, all proceeds from the book are donated to the association Afghanistan Libre (Free Afghanistan).
Media: Rukshana Media, a local media to support Afghan women
Rukshana Media is an independent media supported by TIME Magazine. It was created in memory of Rukshana, a young woman stoned to death in 2015 for fleeing with a lover after a forced marriage. Its commitment is to highlight the voices of Afghan women and value their rights.
The reports are made by local women and deal with taboo subjects such as: menstruation, child marriage, street harassment and economic hardship to violence and gender discrimination and what it means to live as a survivor of rape. Rukshana Media is trying to survive despite its lack of means and the opposition it faces. Today, more than anything else, it is an indispensable channel for women affected by this repression.
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