About two dozen young women took to the streets yesterday in Kabul Afghanistan to protest street harassment. Their demands were similar to those fighting against street harassment worldwide–that women should be able to feel safe anywhere they go and that women shouldn’t have to be afraid just walking down the street. They believe, rightfully, that street harassment exists to keep women scared, complacent and out of the public sphere.
“The idea behind street harassment is that women should not be out of their houses,” said organizer Noor Jahan Akbar, 19, founder of rights group Young Women for Change.
“We want to fight that mentality because we believe that these streets belong to us as much as they belong to the men of this country,” adding that she herself had suffered harassment so persistent it made her reluctant to walk anywhere.
International attention has often focused on the most extreme attacks on women’s freedom, including acid attacks on girls walking to school and mysterious gas poisonings at several girls’ schools, including in Kabul.
But Afghan women say they face a barrage of lower level persecution that can make daily life a challenge.
“What we want to wear, how we want to walk, that’s our decision,” said Anita Haidery, 19, a film and computer science student who also helped organize the protest.
Real talk. Real action. Maybe it is time for a Kabul branch of Hollaback!