Monday, June 07, 2010

I've seen a lot of T&A here, Toes and Ankles.

Much to my surprise, in many respects, not much has changed here in Afghanistan since the war began. On the few occasions in which I have been outside the wire of my base I would estimate that close to 80% of the adult women that I have seen are still wearing the full body burqa that so much was made about when the war began.
What is odd about Afghan women wearing the burqa, is that the burqa is not a part of the Muslim religion or culture. Muslims women will often cover their hair, and possibly their face with scarf or something. From my limited understanding of the Holy Koran, it does not require to cover themselves from head to toes.
When the Taliban were in control they institutes very draconian controls over all the population, including forcing the women to cover themselves head to toe. While the Taliban are trying to make a comeback throughout Afghanistan, they are mostly to a level of highly armed street corner thugs or old style mafia. Yet the full body burqa remains throughout Afghanistan.
A couple theories I've heard seem to make as much as sense as anything I've heard. One thought is that women, more likely their husbands or father's make them wear the burqa as a way to hedge their bets should the Taliban actually win this war and return in full force to their ways of old. They don't want to be seen as having been again the Taliban, and still believe in their backward ways. Another, perhaps as equally as troubling thought, is the burqa is now a new norm for the women and people of Afghanistan. Pride and respect for the women of the family is paramount to typical Afghan family. I just a tough time wrapping my mind around the desire to walk around outside with a essentially a curtain or tablecloth draped over their head, especially now that the temperature routinely reaches over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have bee considering purchasing a burqa as a gift for me niece to use as she would like. I'm curious if she were to wear for Halloween, or bring it in during a show and tell session if the people of her neighborhood would be all up in arms at a young girl walking around in such a cloth. If people do get upset, for what reasons would they become upset over. Should her parents (and I as her Uncle for giving her the gift) have know that a burqa is offensive to women? Yet are the same people who upset at the plight and suffering of the people and women of the middle east?
I don't have the answer for any of these questions yet all I know is that every time I am outside the wire and witness these women wearing a burqa, some of whom I would have to imagine are very beautiful, I am left wondering WHY?

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