Afghan Women in Burkas
REVOLUTIONARY ASSOCIATION OF THE WOMEN OF AFGHANISTAN AFGHANISTAN: Since September 11th, the world has learned of the horrific suffering and repression endured by Afghan women. However, it was a story that the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) had for years been risking lives to tell. Working for social justice since 1977, this organization of women faced a formidable challenge with the institution of extreme fundamentalist rule. Smuggling cameras under their burkas at grave personal risk, RAWA documented public executions, floggings, amputations, and other Taliban abuses, its website often representing the only account of this information available to journalists. Additionally, RAWA provided an underground network of services to a desperate population of women forbidden to work, banned from education, and sequestered in homes with blackened windows. Clandestine schools taught girls to read and write in dark basements, mothers learned handicrafts to earn money to feed their children, and mobile medical teams provided health care to women who could neither leave their home nor legally speak to a male doctor. For these and lesser offenses, numerous Afghan women were publicly flogged, stoned, or executed, while countless others lingered in solitude and isolation, self-labeled as the "living dead." If RAWA's message was received by the world before September 11th, it was not accompanied by the action they sought. Chekeba Hachemi, president of the non-profit "Afghanistan Libre" reflected that the global community "trivialized the agony of the Afghan women by likening it to comparable pain that others have suffered. That," she insists, "was a huge mistake."