Afghan women rally in Kabul july 14, 2011 / Photo: UNDispatch
On January 24, 2011 Michael Sanguinetti a Toronto police officer was invited to speak at a York University safety forum about crime prevention. He said among other things: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” This classic blame-the-victim tone outraged the women activists in Toronto who initiated, a now worldwide, movement known as SlutWalk.
The first SlutWalk took place on April 3, 2011 in Toronto in which hundreds of women dressed half naked as prostitutes rallied and carried signs protesting the sexual harassment of women in public spaces. Soon women in other cities in Canada, United States, and some European countries organized their own SlutWalks and it became officially an international movement.
Last week a group of young girls gathered in Kabul city and rallied for the same cause of protesting sexual harassment on streets, however they avoided to call their event a SlutWalk. The rally which was well-reported in international press was composed of about 30 men and women. Although the girls were all decently clothed and no one looked sluty, the rally itself was probably a discreet response to the international SlutWalk movement.
They carried signs which read “the street belongs to me too” and “we won’t be silent anymore”. There were some religious signs as well, which made me uncomfortable. One said “street harassment is a sin” the other held a hadis, quote from the prophet: “only the inferior people insult the women” – visible in the above picture. Well, my question is how do you promote gender equality among Afghan people by religious rhetoric? Religion doesn’t work here, for two reasons.
One, people of Afghanistan is fed up with religious hypocrisy, everybody knows what is wrong and what is right in Islam, but still keep doing all the robberies, murders, bribery, lies, deceptions, …. Look at the corrupt mullas, officials and the public; this people are sick and dirty in all possible levels. So religious preaching is meaningless to them, although they are considered Muslim fundamentalists. The second reason is that you can’t fight Islam with Islam. The mullah in the following video says exactly what the Canadian policeman in Toronto said: women should stop dressing provocatively in public in order to remain safe. He cites Islam for that, luckily he is a Shia mulla from Hazara ethnic group who have a more moderate stand on women. If it was a Sunni mull, he would repeat the true Islamic Sharia, the kind we experienced during the Taliban.
It is very hard to accept it, but what Taliban did to women in terms of appearing in public was actually based on Islamic teachings. Today, if the Afghan women are genuinely in pursuit of equality, they would not acquire it by hypocritically chanting religious quotes on streets and demanding Islamic Sharia; in contrary, they should fight this Islamic-infused misogynist culture by all other means. I wish them best of luck!