mysophobia 潔癖

Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.

Debunking the myth of the “miserable pitiful Afghan women”

In the Takhar Prison in Afghanistan, there are 500 male inmates and around 40 women serving sentences. The women and their children are kept in a separate area, locked up in a prison within the prison. They live there together in a mini-society, often feeling safer than they did on the outside. Most of them have been sentenced to years in prison because they ran away from home, fleeing from their adulterous and abusive husbands. Filmmaker Nima Sarvestani managed to film within the walls of the prison yard, where he followed the adventures of Sara, Nadjibeh and Sima. Sara and her true love are both in prison because they refused to enter into arranged marriages with other people, while Nadjibeh and Sima escaped from violent households. In this postage-stamp-sized space, they try to process their traumatic pasts, build a new life and make plans for a better future. There are moments full of hope, fear and solidarity, but also the daily worries of washing, raising children and the occasional spats with one another. What binds these brave women together is their repressed, vulnerable position in society and the way they struggle with it.

 “With this film I have tried to show a side of Afghan women which is never shown by the media. I don’t just represent the stereo type of the Afghan women who is passive and powerless. I have tried also to show their resilient power as they fight for their rights.”


In Takhar Province, the majority is Uzbek and Tajik hybrid.


(O`My God,I am a Pakhtun and am not afraid of death, but I abhor mere living and a death of no use.) Or, as the great Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak (1613-1689) puts it in one of his couplets,

(Ghani, 1986, p. 339).

(In Kamil, 1960, p. 528)
(To me death is far better than life, if mere living is not with respect and honour.)

This—the couplet, the aphorism—is not merely a literary tradition within Pashto poetry, but clues to the life mottos of every true Pakhtun. Pashto literature and Pashto folklore describe and define this code with clarity, so the linkage between language and culture is especially strong in this case: Pashto is not only the name of their language but the name of their code of conduct as well.


Ghani, K. G. (1986). Da Ghani Kulyat. Information Ministry, Kabul Afghanistan.




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This entry was posted on April 13, 2014 by in 【Voices of Muslims】.
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