Women's Fightback 26, Autumn/Winter 2021

A new generation of Kyrgyz heroines

The kidnapping of brides has been banned for decades in Kyrgyzstan, an ex-USSR Central Asian Republic lying north of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The law was tightened in 2013, with sentences of up to 10 years in prison for those who kidnap a woman to force her into marriage. Previously it was a fine of 2,000 soms, about £20. Despite that, the medieval practise of ala kachuu (“take and run”) persists to this day. The Women Support Centre in Bishkek has estimated that 12,000 forced marriages take place every year and very few perpetrators are convicted. About 80% of the girls kidnapped accept...

Educating women, changing mindsets

According to UNESCO estimates, globally, 132 million girls are out of school, including 34.3 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67.4 million of upper-secondary school age. UNICEF reports 15 million of those girls come from the East Asia/Pacific region. Every fifth girl in the region was unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10 according to 2020 figures. The pandemic has also caused increases in gender-based violence, early marriage and teenage pregnancy. One way of pushing for increased education for girls is through projects such as PAWA...

Support Afghan women against the Taliban

Following the announcement that almost all foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by September, the Taliban has made rapid territorial gains. Within a month they had taken Kabul and on Saturday 11th September (at the time of writing), had raised their flag over the presidential palace to mark the beginning of the newly formed Islamic emirate. Tens of thousands of Afghans, who fear Taliban reprisals, have tried to flee the country and thousands have headed to the airport to get on flights out of the country. However, now, the borders are largely closed. Workers’ Liberty has never supported the...

A feminist speaks from inside Afghanistan

Mariam is an activist in the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), living in Afghanistan. Women’s demonstrations started in the first week of full Taliban rule, particularly in Herat and Kabul and other cities. In these cities at least, women previously had some basic rights, like having jobs and going to school and university. These were small demonstrations, mostly dozens rather than many hundreds or thousands. But they took place in a lot of places, and that showed the power and strength that women in Afghanistan have. Some were attacked by the Taliban. A lot of...

Afghan sportswomen abandoned

Kelly Lindsey, former head coach of the Afghanistan women’s football team — and before that, US international player — spoke to supporters before Lewes FC women’s home friendly against West Ham on 22 August. She has been working to secure safe evacuation of footballing women and girls from Afghanistan, along with the director of women’s football, a human rights lawyer and FIFPRO (the international professional footballers’ federation, their trade union body). “For seven days straight we’ve created a team in the US, a team in Australia, a team in Europe, we have passed the baton all day and all...

Run

A verse by Janine Booth Her cover drive and how she ran are now haram under the rule of the Taliban Can she stay in? For sure she can She can’t be out without a man in ancient, new Afghanistan She’d tackle assumptions and she’d score but won’t be playing any more She’s fallen foul of holy law Her parents murdered, house burned down She grabbed her sisters, fled the town and walked two hundred miles of ground To reach a place they might take flight to wait at the gate and hope despite the odds that there’s an end in sight While those who gave the battle orders to storm across a nation’s borders...

Texas and the fragility of reproductive rights in the USA

After attempts to block it in the Supreme Court failed, the strictest anti-abortion law in the US went into effect on 1 September 2021. The Texas law, which bans all abortion after around six weeks, relies on intimidation to ensure it is implemented. It allows any private citizen to sue anyone deemed to have helped a woman get an abortion. Campaigners rightly fear this will empower anti-choice reactionaries to bring harassing lawsuits, paralysing the few abortion clinics still open, in the state. The law is likely to embolden anti-choice moves in other US states. Other states have passed...

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