Tag Archives: Gender issues

@kumudam_com – Apologise for your story insulting women and be responsible! – Kavitha Muralidharan

http://tinyurl.com/pw8wy8v

Women who wear leggings are immoral! That’s what Kumudam, a popular Tamil Magazine, thinks.

Kumudam has also printed several photos of women wearing leggings without their consent! If the women are wearing Kurtas over their leggings, the magazine has chosen to print sleazy photographswhere the wind is blowing up their kurta.

This is sickening behaviour! Sign our petition and make Kumudam magazine apologise for this tasteless story.

The magazine has also printed a poem by an anonymous male author – who says men can’t help but ogle women, so it is the responsibility of women to dress ‘decently’.

Kumudam thinks it can get away with moral policing and publicly shaming women! We need to show them that if they publish such stories, they too will be held publicly accountable.

Kumudam’s editor and managing director have refused to comment on this story. They’re refusing to acknowledge that their magazine hasdone anything wrong.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Kumudam has demeaned women. They have run many such sensational stories where they degrade women. Kumudam has to be held accountable!

Sign my petition and make Kumudam apologise and promise to publish responsible stories.

I am a female journalist and Kumudam’s history of objectifying and judging women sickens me. If enough people sign this petition, we canshow Kumudam that their readers and their audience will not tolerate such stories.

If we make Kumudam apologise, other media outlets will think twice before running ‘stories’ such as this. Sign my petition and make Kumudam apologise and promise to engage in responsible journalism.

To sign petition: https://www.change.org/p/kumudam-apologise-for-your-story-insulting-women-and-be-responsible?recruiter=8151202&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Dress Code – a social ignorance

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5th September, 2103 – Puthiya Thalimurai Tv invited to participate in a debate that was scheduled to discuss about the proposal prepared by The directorate of collegiate education. The proposal recommends to impose # dresscode for students. Students are expected to be banned from wearing T-shirts, while jeans and sleeveless shirts will be off limits for female students. “Boys will be asked to wear formal outfits, like shirts and trousers, while girls will have to be in salwars or saris. – http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-01/chennai/41662347_1_dress-code-city-college-science-colleges

Related Video and my comments:

Victim Blaming is the most adapted strategy in our society. Whole world is no exception to that. Particularly, when it comes to #sexual #violence #against #women there is an outcry with the  ‘male tongue’ which points out to dress, behavior, attitude etc. If one has to put it in a crude manner with a Tamil dictum it shouts saying “break the legs of the women and lock her home, then everything will be alright”

The proposal by Ms. Senthamizh Selvi, The directorate of collegiate education is as equal as saying so. This directorate is representing the Arts and Science College. It is said that dress code has already been imposed in few Engineering Colleges. We do not know if it is not important for Medical Colleges and other institutions.

Distraction, Protection against Sexual assault, dignity and morality has been the primary reason often spoken by such people. If a man is getting distracted by seeing a women dressed ‘sexy’, then it is going to be the same case with Women also. Not only on the account of being sexy, but depending on color, design, fashion and style one would get curios or attracted towards other person irrespective of gender. One of the panelist Mr. Manushyaputhran asked that a person may also get distracted over the other person because of his / her looks, ‘beauty’ etc, so what are we going to about it? He sarcastically pointed out that, more than students, it is the faculty that gets distracted with dress and looks of the other person.

Not only that a student my feel distracted because of the teaching standards of the professor, attitude of the professor, the institution’s approach etc. He / She may be even be distracted or travel in his / her own world because some issues in the family or society. May be the Institutions might even say that if a person feels distracted, then would be dismissed. An energetic brain is bound to think too many things at the same time. It is quite natural. It is said that brain (waves) travel faster than the sound waves. Not only ‘decent-closed’ dress, any damn thing on this earth is not going to be able to stop this. May be the Professor’s teaching methodology and the experience an Institution gives may be of some help.

Secondly, it is about Sexual Conduct. I have been writing about the ‘freedom’ that is granted to women in an Globalized Era under Capitalism. I have even put forward some harsh realities and psycho-graphics. However, they are meant to be a discourse with my fellow beings. It is knowledge dissemination with the observations that I make and intended to educate, expose, create awareness about the external factor that conditions our mind about Status, Pseudo Radicalism by means of “fashion”. We need to debate on it and make everyone understand that those dresses emphasize that Women is all about Flesh and Beauty. We should point out on the dangers of consumerist Slavery. It is important for women (& men) to know about Retaining their Self-Respect without falling prey to such ‘fashion statements’. Making it Rules and Codes is to be defined as Dictatorship. The people who oppose this does not seem to have understood the ‘Dress Politics’ in an Globalized Era, they are not sensitive about liberal Economy.  This perception is a blatant result of Patriarchy.

People further ask – Dress code in institution is going to be for 5 hours, is that enough to change someone’s mind? How is it going help curb violence outside the campus? There is a lots to do to improve the quality of education in an institution, is dress code a priority? These questions are justified. But the answers seem to be “I am concerned about what you do inside my campus (limits), outside that I am not bothered”. What kind of Social Concern is this? One of the Panelist who happens to be a professor said that “If it comes here, it will come outside as well”. This is the standard of the education institutions here. She used a phrase called ‘Hieghts of Feminism’. Quite funny. What is Feminism?  Is it amount feminity? Is it about being Women? There has been numerous discussion put forward by Feminists on what is Feminity (or gender – the social construction). These ‘Professors’ don’t seem to have read them at all.

Another Panelist Ms. Banu Goms said that ‘Women’s anatomy would definitely stimulate a Man, hence women should not ‘provoke’ men with their dresses”. It sounded like I live in barbaric era. Talking about the Capitalistic Dominance on a Women’s Body and Psyche makes sense. Instead she argued saying it is ‘scientific’. ‘Biological’ instincts is different from saying it is scientific. And even such instincts arouse naturally, then it applies to women as well. But women have been oppressed on grounds of Morality, Virginity, Chastity etc and they have suppressed their emotions for centuries. In fact by now the genes have got mutated. Another panelist Ms. Suseenthra a student asked “Will a man be aroused on seeing a Mother’s breasts while she is serving food”. Ms. Banu reacted immediately out of ‘Cultural Shock’ saying, “Oh how can you talk so vulgar?” This testifies her ‘intellect’. If we say even Women get ‘orgasm’, I am sure she would have commented ‘you seem to be sex maniac’.

Manushyaputhiran shared a different view about Uniforms. Our society is drowned with unequal distribution of wealth and Caste indifference, hence we cannot completely accept that view, however it is important the we encourage discourse around the point that ‘uniforms are a part of Institutionalizing and pseudo discipline’. Dress has become a status symbol and the society has been brain washed enough. So we have to analyze both ends.

One set of People argue that ‘Conduct’ is in mind, others say, if we loose our senses (body) everything is lost. We have to understand that Heart, Body everything is same. Brain is the basis of everything. What is stored in our brain appears as visuals and thoughts in us. We call that as ‘mind’ (or heart). What is stored in brain is a result of social conditioning and it is very hard to change that.

While I walk out after the program, Vasumithra called to ask “People (professors) are saying that dress code is important to save students from distraction.. but we have instances where teachers, professors and chancellors (male) indulge in sexual harassment and even Rape the students. Will someone be able to guarantee that the professors will not indulge in sexual harassment against women those who dress ‘decently’?”

Moreover Homo Sexual harassment is also quite common in Institutions. What will those People say about ‘Men’s dress’ in this case?

It may not be surprising if they again defend by saying it is the problem with the ‘dress’, ‘attitude’ etc.

In memoir of Gayathri, a student belonging to Arunthathiyar Caste, whose death is still mysterious. She studied in Vivekananda College, Thiruchenkode and is said that she was sexually harassed and raped by the faculty. I can certainly say that she was not wearing ‘sexy’ clothes….

To read in Tamil: http://saavinudhadugal.blogspot.in/2013/09/blog-post.html

Chithralekha arrested for filing complaint under SC/ST (PoA) Act against abusive block panchayat official

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M.A.S.E.S strongly condemn this act and requests the intervention of concerned authorities and Government. Pl share widely.

Chithralekha, the Dalit woman auto rickshaw driver from Payannur (who has been fighting the CITU/CPM in her locality for a long time now), and her husband Shreeshkanth, have been picked up by the police and arrested on the non-bailable offense of obstructing a government official in the conduct of his duties. The Government Official who is the Jila Panchayath SC officer ( M B Muralidharan, an upper caste man) had withheld Chithra’s loan, and she had questioned him on this. This happened in the month of January 2013. When Chithra questioned him, he abused her in the most derogatory way. Citing all this, Chithra had complained to the SC/ST commission and they had called her for a meeting about this case in June 2013. The said official was to be summoned under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. However, instead of doing that, the police has instead arrested Chithra and is right now taking her to the magistrate. They arrested her in a most stealthy way. First they booked a non existing traffic offense case against her and took away her autorickshaw by crane. When she went to inquire about this, she was told that there is a case against her, and she was arrested.

We urge dalit activists, women’s groups and concerned citizens to support Chithra in her struggle. Please protest against this gross injustice against a struggling dalit woman.

~~~~~

Please also read What I have to say: Chitralekha when Chitra was attacked by a mob of 30 men in the month of May, 2013 – she writes her account of that horrific incident and the attitude of the police towards her and her family.

 

Source: http://www.dalitweb.org/?p=2024&fb_source=message

My Case On Acid Attacks In Supreme Court

Sushil Kumar Shinde: Stop the sale of acid in retail #womensafety #stopacidattacks

Two men threw acid on me when I was 15 years old. This happened because I refused to marry one of them.

It has been eight years since this incident and nothing has changed. In the last three months alone more than 60 acid attack cases on women in India were reported.

After this brutal incident, I decided to fight against the use of acid as a weapon against women. I filed a case with the Supreme Court of India to seek justice and control the sale of acid in India.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court gave the Government of India a final deadline of 7 days to frame a policy to curb the sale of acid in order to prevent acid attack cases.

If the Home Minister acts on this immediately, a lot of acid attacks can be prevented In India. That’s why I started this petition telling the Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde to immediately take measures to regulate sale of acid in retail.

With each passing day, in the absence of any regulation on acid sale, innocent women are paying a heavy price.

We need to build enormous pressure on our Home Minister Shinde and let him know that the whole country is watching his actions. We have less than a week to do this!

Join me in telling Home Minister Shinde to immediately regulate and control the sale of acid. Sign my petitionand forward it to your friends and family to save the lives of many more women in India. http://change.org/stopacidattacks

Thanks in advance for taking action,

Laxmi via Change.org

 

‘கணவரின் அதிகாரத்தை நிராகரிக்கத் தூண்டியவர்கள்’ – பிபிசி

சவுதி அரேபியாவில் ஒரு பெண்ணை அவரது கணவரின் அதிகாரத்தை நிராகரிக்க தூண்டிய குற்றத்தின் பேரில் தண்டிக்கப்பட்டுள்ள இரு பெண் உரிமைச் செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள், அந்த தண்டனையை நீக்குமாறு தமது அரசாங்கத்தை கோரியுள்ளனர்.

தமக்கு விதிக்கப்பட்ட 10 மாத சிறைத்தண்டனையை நீக்குமாறு அந்த இரு பெண்களால் தாக்கல் செய்யப்பட்ட மேன்முறையீடு இந்த வார பிற்பகுதியில் விசாரணைக்கு வரவுள்ளது.

வஜெகா அல் குவைதர் மற்றும் பௌசியா அல் ஒயோயுனி ஆகிய இந்த இரு செயற்பாட்டாளர்களுக்கும் விதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ள இந்தத் தண்டனை, அவர்களை சிறையில் போட்டு, அவர்கள் பெண்களுக்காக எழுப்பி வருகின்ற குரலை அடக்குவதற்கான ஒன்றாக பார்க்கப்படுகின்றது.

சவுதி பெண்களுக்கு வாகனங்களை ஓட்டுவதற்கான உரிமை வழங்கப்பட வேண்டும் என்ற போராட்டத்தில் முன்னணியில் திகழ்ந்தவர் வஜெகா.

பௌசியா சவுதியில் பெண்களுக்கான செல்வாக்கு மிக்க இணையதளம் ஒன்றை நடத்திவருகின்றார்.

வீட்டில் அடைக்கப்பட்ட கனடியப் பெண்

ஆகவே இரு வருடங்களுக்கு முன்னதாக தான் கடுமையாக தனது சவுதியைச் சேர்ந்த கணவரால் சித்ரவதைகளுக்கு உள்ளாக்கப்படுவதாக நத்தலி மோரின் என்னும் கனடிய பெண் முறையிட்ட போது, இவர்கள் இருவரும் அதில் அந்தப் பெண்ணுக்கு ஆதரவாக தலையிட்டார்ககள் என்பது யதார்த்தமானதுதான்.

ஆனால், அந்த துஷ்பிரயோக குற்றச்சாட்டை அந்தப் பெண்ணின் கணவர் மறுத்தார்.

அந்த கனடிய பெண், தன்னையும் தனது குழந்தைகளையும் தனது கணவர் உணவு, தண்ணீர் இல்லாமல் அடைத்து வைத்திருப்பதாகவும், தனக்கு உதவுமாறும் தமக்கு டெக்ஸ்ட் மூலம் உதவி கோரினார் என்று பௌசியா கூறுகிறார்.

ஆகவே தாம் இருவரும், அந்த கனடிய பெண்ணுக்கு உணவு வழங்குவதற்காக அவரது வீட்டுக்கு சென்றதாக இரு பெண்களும் கூறுகின்றனர்.

ஆனாலும், அந்த டெக்ஸ்ட் செய்தி உண்மையில் தம்மை இந்த விடயத்தில் மாட்டி விடுவதற்காக நத்தலியின் கணவராலேயே அனுப்பப்பட்டதாக பௌசியா கூறுகிறார்.

நத்தலியின் கணவர் பொலிஸுக்கு புகார் செய்ய, பொலிஸார், நத்தலியை கடத்த முயன்றார்கள் என்ற குற்றச்சாட்டின் பேரில் இவர்களை கைது செய்தார்கள்.

இவர்கள் இருவருக்கும் இந்த ஜூன் மாதத்தில் சிறைத்தண்டனை விதிக்கப்பட்டபோது, அந்தக் குற்றச்சாட்டு கைவிடப்பட்டது.

ஆனால், அதற்குப் பதிலாக இவர்களுக்கு தக்பீப் – அதாவது ஒரு மனைவியை அவரது கணவரின் அதிகாரத்தை நிராகரிக்குமாறு தூண்டி விடுதல் என்ற குற்றச்சாட்டின் கீழ் இவர்களுக்கு தண்டனை வழங்கப்பட்டது.

இவர்களுக்கு 10 மாதச் சிறைத்தண்டனையும், 2 வருடங்களுக்கு பயணத்தடையும் விதிக்கப்பட்டது.

கண்டனம்

இதனை மனித உரிமைகள் அமைப்புக்கள் கண்டித்துள்ளன.

இந்த இரு பெண்களும் கடந்த காலங்களில் சவுதி பெண்களின் உரிமைகளுக்காக போரடிதற்கான பதிலடியாக, அவர்களை மௌனிக்கச் செய்வதற்காகவே அவர்களுக்கு இந்தச் சிறைத்தண்டனை வழங்க்கப்படுவதாக ”ஈக்குவாலிட்டி நவ்” என்ற அமைப்பின் செயற்பாட்டாளரான சவுட் அபு தையே பிபிசியிடம் தெரிவித்தார்.

செல்வாக்கு மிக்க சூரா கவுன்ஸிலில் பெண்களுக்கு உறுப்புரிமை வழங்குவது, அடுத்து வருகின்ற உள்ளூராட்சி சபைத் தேர்தலில் பெண்களுக்கு வாக்களிக்க இடமளிப்பது ஆகியவற்றின் மூலம் மன்னர் அப்துல்லா சவுதியில் பெண்களுக்கு மேலும் உரிமைகளை வழங்க நடவடிக்கை எடுத்து வருகிறார்.

இவை வெறுமனே ஒரு குறியீட்டளவிலானவை மாத்திரமே என்று செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள் கூறுகிறார்கள்.

பெண்கள் மீது ஆண்களுக்கு இருக்கக்கூடிய ”பாதுகாவலர்” என்ற அதிகாரத்தில் மட்டுப்பாடுகள் தேவை என்பதுதான் தற்போது பெண் உரிமைச் செயற்பாட்டாளர்களின் முக்கிய கோரிக்கையாக இருக்கிறது.

இந்த இலகுவில் மாற்ற முடியாத அம்சங்களுக்கு எதிராகப் போராடி பெண்களுக்கான ஒரு மேம்பட்ட உலகை உறுதி செய்யும் போராட்டத்தில் வஜெகாவும் பௌசியாவும் உண்மையில் வீரப் போராளிகள் என்று அவர்கள் பாராட்டுகிறார்கள்.

 

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/tamil/global/2013/07/130710_saudiwomen.shtml

 

Pre-marital Sex or Non-marital Sex

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Most Media probably tried creating a sensational debate yesterday with its headline “Couples who have premarital sex to be considered ‘married,’ says HC”  –  unfortunately it has to be pointed out that “Do not write between lines and let not the interpretation of an Individual be projected as High Court Judgement”.

According to the report:

The court further said if necessary either party to a relationship could approach a Family Court for a declaration of marital status by supplying documentary proof for a sexual relationship. Once such a declaration was obtained, a woman could establish herself as the man’s wife in government records. “Legal rights applicable to normal wedded couples will also be applicable to couples who have had sexual relationships which are established.”

The court also said if after having a sexual relationship, the couple decided to separate due to difference of opinion, the ‘husband’ could not marry without getting a decree of divorce from the ‘wife’.

“..if any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations,” Justice C S Karnan said in his order.

Before I begin with my criticism, I consider that this Judgement is a historic one and is in no way a cultural or a moral disaster. While we read the entire ruling, it is very clear that Justice C.S. Karnan has intended to protect the rights of women and child who are abandoned after sexual exploitation either by pointing out to consensual sex or  by taking the excuse of not being legally / customarily married / saying that it is an illegitimate child.

“Justice Karnan said he was of the view that a valid marriage did not necessarily mean that all the customary rights pertaining to the married couple are to be followed and subsequently solemnised. In the present case, the woman and her husband had no encumbrance or other disqualification for solemnising their wedding as per their customs. For solemnising a wedding, legal aspects should be placed on a higher scale than the customary aspects. In this case, the man had signed in the ‘live birth report’ of his second child and given his consent for a Caesarean section for its birth. As such, he had officially admitted that she was his wife.”

“Without legal encumbrance or third party interference or without affecting third party rights, both the petitioner and the respondent lived together as spouses and begot two children.” Therefore, the question of an illegitimate relationship did not arise. Wedding solemnisation was only a customary right, but not a mandatory one. Hence, the judge said, he was treating the couple as spouses in normal life

First of all, to me in this context, the word ‘Pre-marital’ sex sounds absurd, “non-marital” sex may be a better term because this ruling discusses about ‘ruling out’ the customary aspects of marriage that is followed for the sake of society or under the religious belief system. In-fact I recommend that the word “non-marital” sex comes into floating rather than this word ‘Pre-marital Sex”. (it tries to imply that sex is taboo).

 Also I notice that many other posts discusses based on tweets & posts of the general public which comments such as “if all sexual relationships amounts to marriage, then how many wives do I have” etc., This is a reflection of a ‘COMMON MAAAANNNNNNN’ trying to boast of his ‘sexual capability’. Nowhere has the justice let out words that acknowledges all sexual relationships as marriage, he has very clearly evaluated the period of living, resultant actions, engagement and concluded the judgement on the grounds of those evidences.

‘One of the intelligent post questions the fate of commercial sex being labeled as marriage’, these kind of interpretation is nothing more than male chauvinist stupidity.  But I would like to say that if it is the case of a commercial sex-worker who conceived a child out of a living / sex with ‘one person’ and there has been a lack of protective measures by the Man in-spite of women insisting on protection, then that has to be considered as a child born out of “non-marital sex” and the women should be given right to seek maintenance for her pregnancy, child birth and maintenance of that child.

Now, coming back to the HC judgement, justice has done the necessary evaluation to arrive at the conclusion of acknowledging a ‘live-in’ relationship as marriage and whereby boldly recommended to rule out the ‘customary aspects’ (to be precise ‘religious customary aspects) and keep Legal aspects above all aspects. He has very clearly stated what all evidences would count for a live-in relationship.

More importantly we have to note that it says “Pre-marital sex equals ‘marriage’, must get ‘divorced’ to ‘marry’ another

I am not surprised to see the ‘moralistic’ outcries of few people because in a male dominant society one always get carried away by the mere word “Pre-marital sex”, but now this judgement insists on ‘commitment’ and demands responsibility for ‘action’ – no more it can be a mere ‘sex-play’ in the name of ‘live-in relationship’ or keeping a ‘keep’.

arey baba you got to be ‘responsible’ for your action, you just can’t spit in the vagina and run away.

Relevant Posts:

http://pratyaya.nationalinterest.in/2013/06/18/making-sense-of-madras-high-court-judgment-on-pre-marital-sex-and-marriage/

http://www.firstpost.com/india/why-the-madras-hc-judgment-on-premarital-sex-is-a-progressive-one-883961.html

http://www.legallyindia.com/201306183757/Bar-Bench-Litigation/madras-hc-pre-marital-sex-enough-to-solemnize-wedding-divorce-needed-to-marry-again

News links:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/couples-who-have-premarital-sex-to-be-considered-married-says-hc/article4824017.ece

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hc-says-couple-of-right-legal-age-indulging-in-sex-are-husband-and-wife/1/283991.html

Afghan Activist Fahima Vorgetts:

Afghan Activist Fahima Vorgetts: Resisting the 1% in Afghanistan, One Women’s Cooperative at a Time
by Kathy Kelly

May 27, 2013

When she was 24 years old, in 1979, Fahima Vorgetts left Afghanistan.  By reputation, she had been outspoken, even rebellious, in her opposition to injustice and oppression; and family and friends, concerned for her safety, had urged her to go abroad.  Twenty-three years later, returning for the first time to her homeland, she barely recognized war-torn streets in urban areas where she had once lived.  She saw and felt the anguish of villagers who couldn’t feed or shelter their families, and no more able to accept such unjust suffering than she’d been half her life before, Fahima decided to make it her task to help alleviate the abysmal conditions faced by ordinary Afghans living at or below the poverty line — by helping to build independent women’s enterprises wherever she could.  She trusted in the old adage that if a person is hungry it’s an even greater gift to teach the person how to fish than to only give the person fish.

fahima-vorgetts-mabel-7

Last week, our small delegation here in Kabul traveled around the city with her to visit several clinics and “shuras,” or women’s councils, that she has opened.

The first clinic we visited has been here since 2006.  Two women, a doctor and a midwife, told us that they are part of a staff who work in three shifts to keep the clinic open “24-7.”  Not one of their patients has died while being treated at the clinic.

Next we visited two villages, one Pashtun and the other Tajik, on the outskirts of Kabul.

“Why did you pick this village?” asked Jake Donaldson, an M.D. from Ventura, CA who joined us here in Kabul about a week ago.  “I didn’t pick them,” Fahima exclaimed.  “They picked me.”

A year previously, the villagers had asked her to build a clinic and a literacy center.  She had told them that, if they would agree to organize a women’s cooperative and pool their resources to hire teachers, midwives, and nurses, she herself would build the physical building and help with supplies.

In each village, we visited a newly constructed building which will house a clinic, a women’s cooperative for jewelry-making, tailoring, and canning, a set of literacy classes for children and adults, and even a public shower which families can sign up to use.  A young teacher invited us to step inside his classroom where about fifty children, girls and boys, were learning their alphabet in the first week of a literacy class.  Several villagers proudly showed us the well they had dug, powered by a generator.  The well will help them irrigate their land as well as supply clean drinking water for the village.

Before we left, a male village elder described to Fahima how valuable her work has been for his village.  Fahima seemed to blush a bit as she gratefully acknowledged his compliment.

Such appreciative words, along with the children’s eager expressions, seem to be the main compensation for her tireless work.  “I and the board members of the Afghan Women’s Fund are 100% volunteers,” Fahima assures me.  “Our board members are people of tremendous integrity.”

On the day before our tour, Fahima had come to the Afghan Peace Volunteer home to speak to the seamstresses who run a sewing cooperative here and encourage them to hold on at all costs to their dignity.  She urged them never to prefer handouts to hard work in self-sustaining projects.  Fahima had helped the seamstresses begin their cooperative effort at the Volunteer house when she purchased sewing machines for them a little over a year ago.

“Not all of the projects I’ve tried to start have worked out,” said Fahima.  “Sometimes people are hampered by conservative values and some families don’t want to allow women to leave their homes.  Most often, it is war or the security situation that prevents success.”

She firmly believes that war will never solve problems in her country — or anywhere else, for that matter.

Fahima is outspoken, even blunt, as she speaks about warlords and war profiteers.  She has good reason to be bitter over the cruelties inflicted on ordinary Afghans by all those interested in filling their own pockets and expanding control of Afghanistan’s resources.  She advises the Afghan Peace Volunteers with the voice and love of a mother.  “The world is gripped by a class war in which the 1% elite, irrespective of nationality or ethnicity and including the Afghan and U.S./NATO elite, have been ganging up to control, divide, oppress, and profit from us, the ordinary 99%.  Resist these ‘dark times,’ resist war and weapons, educate yourselves, and work together in friendship.”

Fahima’s spirit of youthful rebellion clearly hasn’t been snuffed out by age or experience.  Her practical compassion is like a compass for all of us who learn about her work.

For more about the Afghan Women Fund, go towww.Afghanwomensfund.org.