SlutWalk in Kabul

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!

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3 thoughts on “SlutWalk in Kabul

  1. There is no such a thing as true sharia. As you know sharia means the closest path to clean water; what is the closest path to clean water? it’s open for interpretation. So to say Sunni would say the true sharia based on this definition is incorrect as true is only for each respective sect to decide (i.e. true shia sharia and true sunni sharia).
    As you said everybody knows what is bad and what is good so here I fail to see how Islam is the culprit. If they know the good and the bad; it’s not Islam; it’s lack of respect to rules/regulations and at the end of it lack of education.

  2. How much did we in the West actually help with women’s rights? Did we work with the women’s groups on the ground? What about the practice in Afghanistan of males collecting a harem of boys, making them dance for each other and then trading them amongst themselves?

    Rape and sexual harassment are about about power and maintaining the status quo – which is why corrupt societies allow it. Let us not forget the Missing and Murdered in Canada or the 11 year old Texas girl who was blamed for her own gang rape before we get too smug.

    To the women in Afghanistan who marched – thumbs up!

  3. “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.”

    Well, you got the second half right, at least. Approximately 3000 women and men participated in the first Slut Walk in Toronto, dressed in every manner of outfit, including jeans, t-shirts, business suits, wedding dresses, and bathing suits.

    “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.”

    If you have other ideas on how to address this issue, then you have a platform to promote it. What are your ideas and how can they be implemented and the message spread?

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