Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Malalai Joya: A Woman Among Warlords

From Canadian Press:
"A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice" by Malalai Joya with Derrick O'Keefe (Scribner)

At 31, Malalai Joya has a long and courageous record of fighting for women's rights in Afghanistan. Now she is focusing on war lords, drug lords and corruption and the leaders she sees as supporting them.

Joya is an energetic political warrior. Born just before the Soviet invasion, she spent much of her childhood in foreign refugee camps where the family fled because of her father's political activity.

Her own dissident career began as a teenager secretly teaching women to read. That was a subversive activity when the Taliban temporarily ruled Afghanistan. The Taliban are extremist Muslims and narrowly restrict education of women.

Soon she was running her own clandestine girls' school. A burka - the tentlike garment the Taliban wanted all women to wear - proved useful to hide loads of books that might have aroused suspicion.

Elected to Parliament after the Taliban was defeated, Joya traded epithets with other members she calls drug lords, former puppets of the Soviets and war lords responsible for thousands of murders in the civil war.

They called her prostitute, infidel, traitor and communist. She compared them to animals in a zoo or a stable and was suspended during the rest of her term for insulting colleagues.

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