Women of Afghanistan – 16 August 2021
The image today is a detail from a larger work (see below), street art from a wall in Kabul. These are women wearing burqas. They represent the pure essence and subservience of women in Afghanistan. If the viewer had never seen a woman in a burqa, how might this image be understood? There is insufficient humanity and individuality to suggest these are people, so it might suggest machines or robots. There are no faces, no eyes, no smiles – that essential image is obscured. There are no arms, so agency and action are lost.
The artwork is by Ommolbanin Shamsia Hassani, a member of the graffiti artist collective Roshd in Kabul. The picture below shows her signing the whole artwork. Here the figures of the women rise out of water. The artist said: ‘Water is always associated to cleanliness and I want to show that women are clean too’.
When sisters sit together, they always praise their brothers.
When brothers sit together, they sell their sisters to others.
Landay Poem, Afghan woman
(Landay – an Afghani folk couplet, a scrap of poetry from an oral tradition)
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come;
send for the most skillful of them.
Let them come quickly
and wail over us
till our eyes overflow with tears
and water streams from our eyelids.
The sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
‘How ruined we are!
How great is our shame!
We must leave our land
because our houses are in ruins.’”
Now, you women, hear the word of the Lord;
open your ears to the words of his mouth.
Teach your daughters how to wail;
teach one another a lament.
Death has climbed in through our windows
and has entered our fortresses;
it has removed the children from the streets
and the young men from the public squares.
Afghan women long to be under someone’s protection and love.
They long for healthy pregnancies and babies.
They long for their children to receive a good education.
They long for deep relationships.
They long for peace in their homes.
Pray that God would open their hearts
to see that their deepest longings can be satisfied
in the fountain of God’s saving love.
Pray that this would be experienced
through the kind actions of others.
May they live in peace.
International Mission Board (Afghanistan)