Sexism is not limited to Pashtuns

by Joshua Foust on 5/31/2009

Õnne Pärl, an Estonian photojournalist living in Afghanistan, just spent some time trying to report on girls’ schools in Balkh province:

There was no warm welcome – we were met by really mistrusting male teachers. There is a mixed school there, just the first shift is for girls. No pictures of female students or even of our village, the teachers stated. All female students were sent out of the school, under the shadow of the nearby foothill. One can imagine how it is to interview one hundred ladies when six male teachers are around, trying to answer all the questions themselves? At least I was able to talk to one boy and I took some photos of boys in classes…

She has an excellent photos in the post. But this is just a reminder that the issues we in the West may have with gender relations in Afghanistan are not limited only to Pashtuns, and not limited only to the South and East. There are differences in degree, however: at the girls in Balkh can attend school fairly unmolested. They face significantly more challenges in the Pashtun areas.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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