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“We want our rights!” one of the women shouted, turning to face them. “We want equality!”
The women ran to the bus and dived inside as it rumbled away, with the men smashing the taillights and banging on the sides.
But the march continued anyway. About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.
Not that they aren’t strong enough on their own, but the images from yesterday’s rare women’s protest in Kabul are that much more powerful when compared to the “weak” tea protests that played out around the U.S. yesterday, as well.
Surveying the newswire, the “call-and-response” quality of the pictures of the women’s group opposite the angry men’s counter-demonstration is particularly striking. The first two images above capture the juxtaposition brilliantly presented by The New York Times. For myself, I felt the need for the third photo which I pulled from the newswire. This image highlights the same woman from the first image (in the purple head scarf, left).
Comparing the first and the last photographs, I get a deeper sense of what a brave and unusual thing these women did yesterday, the look of sadness expressing the intimidation and repression that represents the norm.
(image 1: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times; image 2: Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image; image 3: Omar Sobhani/Reuters. Afghan shi’ite women attend a demonstration in Kabul April 15, 2009. Afghan women staged rival demonstrations for and against a new family law, which opponents said it would revive the cruel treatment of women of the Taliban era, but supporters said it would defend Islamic Justice.)