A woman protester in Kabul Afghanistan came close to being lynched by a mob in a busy district of the capital.
Kubra Khademi 27, was wearing body armour to protect her and to make a statement about “sexual harassment” that Afghan women allegedly face .
She took her protest to the Kubra Khademi district of Kabul, one of the most populated areas of the capital where the sexual harassment usually occurs. The brave woman knew beforehand the type of response she might receive by the locals. She planned her daring protest to last for ten minutes. Instead she had to make do with eight. Photos of her protest have appeared on social media.
It shows the armour plated woman walking among the crowds of the district. Miss Kubra is later seen exiting the scene, by hailing a cab. The crowd reportedly pelted her with stones and insults. Somehow they managed to get through a chink in her medieval looking armored suit. The young lady is at a loss as to what to do to get her sexual harassment message out. She’s been trying for 20 years. She was first molested at the age of 7 while walking down the road. There seems to be no laws governing this sort of behavior in Afghanistan. Men or women could be molested walking in public because of their appearance. Even women in Burqas are not safe according to Miss Khademi. The young artist later went into hiding and is now fearing for her life. She does not understand why her sexual harassment awareness message does not get across in the patriarchal society where women are seen as second-class citizens. It looks like her efforts could pay off, if only more women were as bold as her. In the photos it appears some of the crowd enjoyed the spectacle by cheering rather than jeering. Women’s patience is running out in Afghanistan. They are not objects of entertainment. They are Humans like Men.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day this Sunday, stories such as Ms Khademi’s illustrate the problems still faced by females in countries across the world.
Wearing a suit of armour, which covered her breasts and buttocks, the performance artist walked through the most populous area of the city, Kote Sangi, where she claims women are frequently harassed.
The eight-minute long protest was poorly received by onlookers who threw rocks and jeered and Ms Khademi was forced to cut short her demonstration and flee the scene by taxi. She is now in hiding and fears for her life.
Women in Afghanistan face endemic harassment, including inappropriate touching and prodding. Girls are still sold into marriage and domestic violence goes largely unpunished in the country, where the fight for gender equality is still in its infancy.
At the age of four, a stranger touched Ms Khademi’s bottom while walking to a shop near her family home in Quetta, Pakistan – where she had fled with her family to escape the Taliban.
Expecting someone to come to her aid when she screamed, the reaction was instead hostile.
“All the people stared at me and even started yelling at me: ‘You whore! How dare you scream! Did you enjoy it?” Ms Khademi said.
Nobody saw that man. Maybe he was among the people shouting at me. This stuff happens daily and I see it. But if I am a ‘good girl’ I shouldn’t say it, not to my mother, not to my brother, I shouldn’t say it in public. But I will say it.”
Since that time she has been repeatedly molested in the street, once in the streets of Kabul in 2008, when she returned to take the entrance exams at the fine art department of the city’s university.
Before her demonstration last month, Ms Khademi spent four months interviewing women about sex, sexuality and identity. She lamented the fact that so few women owned their experiences.
“What I felt was the same: women do not have the right to enjoy, and should not have the right to enjoy. It’s like food — you desire to eat, but good women should not talk about it, good women should not enjoy it, good women should not have the right to think of it as her right,” she added.
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