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Archive for June, 2008

Skateistan

…introducing skateboarding in Afghanistan. Go Aussies!

skateistan

It’s all here

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Home sweet home

Went to a wedding on Friday evening, needless to say they TRIED to copy my wedding but things didn’t go to their liking. Bridesmaids dresses, the procession – all was copied. I just sat and smiled while my sisters were bluntly agitated.

Another wedding this evening, bride and groom are both orphans from Mahboba’s Hope House. Very nice girl. I’m guessing the orphanage is paying for it. So nice of them!

I’m also moving out of my parents place and in with H-jan. But I keep telling myself that i’m not moving out and i’ll only be staying there a few nights a week. I’ll be at my house (aka parents house) often and i’m not going to really ‘pack’ and move out. Just take a few things. Oh, who am i kidding? i’m moving out. full stop. Not really though! As the saying goes, home is where the heart is.

*sigh*

Nothing else is happening really. Have been applying for other jobs (yes, in Kabul) but the administration is so poor. As i whined before, this job is sooo boring!

Oh yeah, and i taught at my dad’s school on Saturday. i’m thinking of taking over the management, hmm… but not the teaching part because it’s so very tiring.

It’s 12.46pm and its nearly lunchtime. i’m starving.

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Do you still remember?

Do you still remember, how it used to be?

When you were a father and I was a daughter

Just like things should be…

 

Do you still remember?

I was six, my first day at school,

I cried for you when you dropped me off

Then I looked forward to everyday of school

Carefree and ignorant of the world.

Oh how I wished to live

 

Do you still remember?

I was ten, in fifth grade,

I bought my impressive report card to show you

The smile on your face, do you remember?

Oh how I wished to live

 

Do you still remember?

I was twelve, in seventh grade,

You married another, yet I was easily fooled

in high spirits and grateful.

Oh how I wished to live

 

Do you still remember?

I was seventeen, in first year of uni,

I met another and thought you’d approve

Hopeful and anticipating

Oh how I wished to live

 

Do you still remember?

I was twenty, near completion of uni,

When a calamity befell our family, I stood by your side

Shoulder to shoulder, provided you with support.

Oh how I wished to live

 

Do you still remember?

I was twenty one, just the other day

In this war torn country,

I assisted you every step of the way

And still… how I wished to live

 

I’m still twenty one, on my wedding day,

Do you remember?

The time when I needed you most, you went and married another?

This time nothing is forgiven

The pain, the sadness, the grief.

Oh how I wish to die

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My mouse pad

My Mouse pad

How cool is this?

 

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I’m not quitting. Well, not yet anyway. H’s security allowed me to move in with him, one requirement is that I must be employed. So it looks like i will have to find another job, but until then, i’ll be with my current job.

And OMG, i’m so annoyed. I wanted to get my hair done, only to find that the hairdresser has gone on leave for THREE WEEKS!

Weekend was good. Friday we visited H’s sister, had a light lunch at Cabul Coffeehouse (yes, it’s spelt with a ‘C’) and then dinner with H’s colleagues – lobster and shrimp. Wasn’t as bad as i expected (am not a fan of seafood).

Mum’s relo came over this morning to drop off the invitation card for her son’s wedding. Huge debacle as usual *sigh*. Irritates me!

 

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Media: AP

Byline: Alisa Tang

Date: 14 June 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan – The girl was 11 when she was molested by a man with no legs.

The man paid her $5. And that was how she started selling sex.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most conservative countries, yet its sex trade appears to be thriving. Sex is sold most obviously at brothels full of women from China who serve both Afghans and foreigners. Far more controversial are Afghan prostitutes, who stay underground in a society that pretends they don’t exist.

Customs meant to keep women “pure” have not stopped prostitution. Girls are expected to remain virgins until their wedding nights, so some prostitutes have only anal sex.

Police make two to three prostitution arrests each week, according to Zia ul-Haq, the chief investigator in the Interior Ministry’s department of sexual crimes. They are often the casualties of nearly three decades of brutal war and a grinding poverty that forces most Afghans to live on less than $1 a day.

“Prostitution is in every country that has poverty, and it exists in Afghanistan,” says women’s rights activist Orzala Ashraf. “But society has black glasses and ignores these problems. Tradition is honor, and if we talk about these taboos, then we break tradition.”

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages – the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.

She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.

The Associated Press learned her story in a dozen meetings over four months, as well as interviews with police and aid workers. For months she insisted she was a “good girl” – a virgin. But in March, she confessed to having anal sex with men for years, starting with the legless beggar.

She looked down as she spoke, her face and hands sooty from car exhaust.

She tucked her hair repeatedly under her head scarf.

The girl grew up in Pakistan, where her family fled during a bloody civil war in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. She cleaned cars for money.

Five years ago, her family and a flood of other refugees returned to Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime. But her father could earn only $40 a month doing various odd jobs.

So she sold chewing gum and newspapers and cleaned car windows in the muddy, potholed streets of Kabul. She made about $3 a day.

That was where she met Uncle Lang, a nickname that literally means Uncle Legless.

Uncle Lang was a land mine victim. When the girl and a friend brought him tea and food, he forced himself upon them, police say.

“I didn’t know anything about sex,” she says. “But it happened.”

It’s hard to know how many other women in Afghanistan are prostitutes because of the extreme secrecy around the issue. A University of Manitoba report last September estimated about 900 female sex workers in Kabul.

A 2005 report by the German aid group Ora International drew data from

122 female sex workers, of whom less than 1% knew about AIDS. The youngest was 14.

Prostitutes in Afghanistan include scores of Chinese women serving Western customers who work for security firms, companies and aid groups in Afghanistan. Many of the women say they were tricked into the trade by middlemen who promised them respectable jobs, but Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of Kabul’s criminal investigations, denies this, saying:

“They come here of their own will.”

The shame of prostitution in Afghanistan is intense.

“In our culture, it is very, very bad,” said Soraya Sobhrang, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commissioner for women’s affairs.

Under the Afghan penal code, prostitution is often considered adultery, which is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Under Islamic law, married prostitutes can be stoned to death.

Some prostitutes are forced into the sex trade by their families. The Ora report said 39% of the sex workers interviewed found clients through their relatives – including 17% through their mothers and 15% through their husbands.

For many girls, there is little recourse.

“They think that if they tell us the truth, we will return them to their families, and their families will kill them, or that we will send them to an institution and they will be put in prison,” says Jamila Ghairat of the aid organization Women for Afghan Women. “The girls are afraid of their families, the government and everyone.”

In some cases, it is families that pimp out the girls. At one family-run brothel, the oldest girl was a 15-year-old, orphaned when her parents died in rocket attacks in Kabul. A relative had married her off to a 9-year-old boy whose father was a pimp. She ran away three times, but each time her father-in-law bribed police to bring her back. She finally escaped to the human rights commission.

Makeshift brothels exist all over Kabul, but they are always moving, says Esmatullah Nekzad, a policeman formerly with the force’s Department of Moral Crimes. The clients are mostly Afghan men.

“Most Afghan men have this hobby – young men from about 16 to 30 years of age,” says Nekzad. “You go, you take their phone number, then you tell your friends. It’s all by telephone.”

The girls stay in one place for anything from five days to three months, until neighbors learn of their business.

That’s what happened with the girl Uncle Lang raped. In November, he trafficked her and several others to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to beg and sell sex. Within days the neighbors became suspicious and tipped off police.

Police raided the place and arrested the prostitutes. Uncle Lang fled.

For a few weeks, the girl went daily to a women’s aid organization. She arrived in the morning, worked in the kitchen and had an hour of counseling every day. She left at 4 p.m.

Her hands became clean and soft. She was happier. She started praying to ask Allah forgiveness for her sins.

At first she said her family did not know she was selling sex, and her mother would kill her. But during the counseling sessions, she let it slip that her parents encouraged her to work with Uncle Lang. When she stopped seeing him, they sent her 10-year-old brother instead.

One day, an aid worker spotted her with Uncle Lang on a popular street lined with kebab and ice cream shops.

The aid worker confronted her. A day later, the girl stopped going to the organization.

She has not been seen or heard from since.

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Woman who took up arms against Soviets hands herself in

AFGHANISTAN’S only female rebel commander has handed herself in to the government.

The 50-year-old Kaftar, who took up arms when her son was killed during the Soviet invasion, surrendered on Monday, leaving behind the remainder of the 2,000 militiamen she claims to have once controlled.

Officials in Baghlan, where Kaftar carried out most of her rebel activities, said the rebel commander had handed herself in after negotiations with the government in the province.

Her militant group operated mainly in the north-east of the country, especially in the Nahrin district of Baghlan province, close to the provincial capital Pul-e-Khumri.

Shah Jahan, a 45-year-old resident of the Buz Dara village in Nahrin, said Kaftar was an ordinary woman before militants killed her young son during the Soviet invasion.

Kaftar killed her son’s murderers with her own hands and then turned into a mujahideen commander, Jahan said.

The 50-year-old is charged with a number of crimes, including the murder of a police officer and a former local commander, as well as numerous armed robberies.

Baghlan’s governor, Abdul Jabar Haqbin, said her surrender will have a positive impact on security in the area.

Haqbin said he was trying to bring in from the cold about 280 militiamen who fought under her. But Kaftar claims she only has five men under her control.

She said: “I had 2,000 militiamen once. I defeated the Taliban when they came to our area. Then I gave up my weapons to the government after the Taliban’s fall. When the situation got worse again, I sold my cow and bought some more weapons.”

She said she had become a militant during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and had fought in many battles in Nahrin. Many of her relatives were killed during the battles, she said.

Head of the police in the north, General Mujtaba Patang, said he threatened to kill commander Kaftar if she failed to surrender.

Pajhwok news agency said Kaftar fled to the Nahrin mountains with hundreds of her fighters last year.

She is believed to have been a prominent commander in the Jamiat-e-Islami party during the Soviet invasion, and was Nahrin’s representative in the 2002 Loya Jirga.

Baghlan’s security chief, Abdul Rahman Said Khalil, called Kaftar a criminal and said police had evidences of her involvement in killings, lootings and other crimes in Nahrin.

She denies the accusations.

www.quqnoos.com
Written by Mukhtar Soar
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 

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