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Women in Afghanistan: a photo essay

March 5, 2008
clipped from www.motherjones.com

This woman’s husband is too old to work. She sold her daughter into marriage before the girl was 10, and now she sells herself.


Afghanistan has more than 2 million widows, and these and other desperately poor women often turn to prostitution, despite the risk of being killed by their families if they are discovered. So they remain in the shadows, beneath a double veil of tradition and shame. This woman’s husband is too old to work. She sold her daughter into marriage before the girl was 10, and now she sells herself.

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Malalai Kakar became a police officer before the rise of the Taliban.

Malalai Kakar became a police officer before the rise of the Taliban
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Girls as young as nine set themselves ablaze, typically with cooking oil.

Self-immolation has long been the preferred method of suicide in Afghanistan, but “the trend is upward
Girls as young as nine set themselves ablaze
Zahra spent 93 days in the burn unit
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Inside a Kabul home, a heavy curtain is all that separates a prostitute's work from her family life.


Inside a Kabul home, a heavy curtain is all that separates a prostitute’s work from her family life. Her 15-year-old daughter also sells herself, but not in the house. Too many men going in and out would alert the neighbors, and that could prove fatal.

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On the day of a young boy's circumcision, these girls don lipstick and their very best dresses.
If the odds hold, only a couple of them will receive an education
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Still, heels are the norm, and beneath their burkas many women wear bright, beautiful dresses.
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The waters of Band-i-Amir Lake are thought to cure many ailments, including infertility.
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Still, these four women at a Kabul polling station-and 40 percent of women nationwide-asserted their new right.
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In 2005 her sister found her dead in her Kabul apartment, shot in the head.
she refused to wear the burka
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Sold for $60 at the age of four, Gulsuma was promised to a six-year-old boy who, in the end, was the only member of his family who didn't abuse her.
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