The birthright of a female as revealed by Louie Palu's Kandahar Journals

It has been 35 years since I conducted my research on the roll of women in 32 nations of the world, from China and Indonesia, Mexico, Alaska, nations in Europe from Ireland to Turkey, and other nations along the way. I asked the same questions at schools, hospitals, homes, libraries and merchants in each of the countries:

1. What would one expect for a working class female baby to be her life circumstance in her political environment? 

2. What was the probability of access to education? 

3. What was the likelihood of access to healthcare and what were her options? 

4. What was the possibility of her adult working years, in the unpaid home labor force and in the paid labor force? 

5. What role would religion play in her life? 

6. What legal protections could she expect? 

7. What was the role of violence in her home and upbringing?

Whereas men perform three-quarters of all economic activities in developing countries, women perform 53 percent of the work. "an estimated $16 trillion in global output is currently invisible, of which $11 trillion is estimated to be produced by women.


"Women in Africa represent 52 percent of the total population, contribute approximately 75 percent of the agricultural work, and produce 60 to 80 percent of the food. Yet they earn only 10 percent of African incomes and own just 1 percent of the continent's assets. These numbers indicate the tremendous challenges women face on their road to gender equality."

~ The UN Human Development Report, 1995

In the early 1980s, I was appalled by what I observed and reported on the economic and political situation of women in many nations. Seeing this photo of women in Kandahar taken in Afghanistan sometime between 2006 to 2010 by photojournalist Louie Palu, evokes feelings of horror in me. Just try to imagine what being a woman in that culture means! How can she carry on even the most simple of tasks dressed in a pillow case?  

How is anyone benefited by subjugating a class of people in such a manner simply because of being born a woman? 

The Burka is arguably the worst of the styles assigned to women. There are other required styles that are not much better. 


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Comment by Loren Miller on November 4, 2015 at 7:14am

I have no doubt that there are women out there who "like" the burqa.  People may like all sorts of things ... with a literal or figurative gun to their heads.

And let's not forget that armed robberies and other crimes have been committed by MEN who wore burqas to conceal both their identities and their weapons for obvious reasons.  Obscuring one's identity in an open society is a non-starter with me, as is that ridiculous cloth bag.  Get rid of it.

Comment by Gerald Payne on November 4, 2015 at 7:08am

The argument given (in the UK at least) is that women ''like'' the burka and that it's discriminating to demand they stop wearing it. In the UK in the 90s a ''hoody'' style of dress became popular with teenagers, again resulting in partial cloaking of the face, which resulted in public complaints. Many shopping centre's banned the wearing of hoods in their establishments with not a squeak of protest from anybody. The veiling of the face is disconcerting, and whether or not they allow people with partially masked faces on their premises should be left up to the discretion of the shopkeeper. 

Comment by Loren Miller on November 4, 2015 at 6:39am

I've said it before and will repeat:

A burqa erases a woman. She ceases to have a face, a personality or any meaningful public identity. She becomes reduced to a non-descript presence in a cloth bag. This, indeed, may be the intention of those who superimpose the requirement of a burqa on women in the first place. A burqa is, above and beyond any other quality, Dehumanizing ... which is why it should in no ways be tolerated in modern society.
-- me

Comment by Gerald Payne on November 4, 2015 at 6:21am

Religion is fundamentally a rebellion against nature, a dissatisfaction with the reality of life and death. ''There has to be more to life than this'' has been the driving force for all the illusions dreamed up since people started to think; people have imagined themselves into a world that sits better with their preferences. Religion doesn't influence the way people think it controls it.

Almost every demand for conformity to a life that violates natural instincts has it's origins in religion. The burka, for me, is a natural consequence of having to furnish a house of fantasy.

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