Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power Of The Women Of Afghanistan

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9780143012818: Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power Of The Women Of Afghanistan

In 1997, Sally Armstrong, then editor-in-chief of Homemaker’s magazine, wrote an article about the women of Afghanistan and their lives under the misogynist Taliban regime. More than 9000 letters poured in from readers demanding that something be done to get these women out of bondage. Recently named as UNICEF’s special representative to Afghanistan, Armstrong has an insider’s view of the terror, abuse and misogyny the women and girls of Afghanistan have faced for more than two decades of civil war and, in particular, when the Taliban took over.

Veiled Threat begins on September 27, 1996, the day the Taliban seized power and put women under house arrest. Armstrong introduces us to several women—among them the commissioner of human rights for Afghanistan, Dr. Sima Samar—who describe their rapid-fire descent into the waking nightmare of life under the Taliban.

Armstrong then steps back to describe the centuries-old history of misogyny and the way customs such as honour killing found their way to Afghanistan. She also highlights the extraordinary work women around the world were doing to rescue their sisters in Afghanistan while venerable bodies such as the United Nations were virtually silent.

Leading us through the fractured history of Afghanistan, Armstrong examines what Islam actually says about women. She assesses the monumental impact of September 11 and ends with intriguing conclusions drawn by Afghan women.

Based on first-hand experience that includes Armstrong's own unexpected stay with the Taliban and years of passionate involvement in the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Veiled Threat brings a humane and informed view to the lives of women in this tragic and awesome land.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Editor-in-chief of the Canadian magazine Homemaker's, Armstrong went to Afghanistan in 1997 to search for Dr. Sima Samar, a remarkable woman famous for working underground against the Taliban by keeping schools and medical clinics open for women. After bringing this story to Canadian readers, Armstrong remained an active advocate; she's now a UNICEF representative to Afghanistan. Assuming readers know little about Afghan history, Islamic theology or the recent geopolitical alignments that enabled the Taliban's to assume power, Armstrong gives clear, readable backgrounds on these essentials. She lets Afghan women themselves describe the horrors of Taliban misogynistic rule. For Armstrong, neither Islam nor Afghan tradition were the problem; most Taliban edicts had little to do with the Koran or Islamic tradition, even if they were called "fundamentalist." Their campaign against women was a tactic in their grab for power, says Armstrong, one that played well to their largely illiterate male following. The September 11 attacks and the war on the Taliban and al Qaida have made it possible for women to leave purdah, return from refugee camps and work openly for the rebuilding of Afghan society. As Dr. Samar, now the chair of Afghanistan's Human Rights Commission, makes clear, restoring Afghan women's full civil and economic rights won't be simple. But books like this will go far to mobilize whatever international resources she finds herself needing. Armstrong walks a political tightrope in spots (some may object to the very mention of female genital mutilation), but she's taken on a righteous cause and does it justice. 20 b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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