Members of the Afghanistan Volunteers Foundation organized a march through Kabul to protest for women’s rights, just days before International Women’s Day. The twenty men wore burqas, which is the traditional clothing for women in the country.
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The protesters stood in front of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul. They held signs that said, “We say ‘no’ to all forms of violence” and “Don’t tell women what to wear, you should cover your eyes!”
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“Our authorities will be celebrating International Women’s Day in big hotels, but we wanted to take it to the streets,” said activist Basir. “One of the best ways to understand how women feel is to walk around and wear a burqa.”
However, not all women appreciated the effort from the men.
“We don’t need anyone to defend our rights,” said 16-year-old Medina Ali. “This is just a foreign project to create a bad image for the burqa and Afghanistan. They’re trying to make those of us who cover our faces feel bad.”
“My husband and son tell me I should take my burqa off,” said Bibi Gul, 60. “But I’m used to it. I’ve been wearing this for 35 years.”
Afghan women face harassment when they leave their houses. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), “unchecked sexual harassment has been a significant obstacle to women’s employment and participation in public life” and “harassment on the street is a daily experience for women and girls, and women who have sought help from the police in response to harassment and even threats have typically received no assistance.”
The men who marched told reporters they are tired of the way women are treated in the country. Massoud claimed he tried a burqua, which made him feel “imprisoned.”
“The day is only for women who are victims of violence… mostly burqa-wearing women happen to be a victim of violence, they are seen on roads, they roam the streets wearing burqas, but these women have never been invited to programmes in connection with the women’s day,” said protester Abdul Basir.