Incredible scenes of women’s liberation in Afghanistan from the 1970s

In most parts of the world, women’s permissions have been moved forward over the past 50 years, even if it’s incremental pace. And then there is Afghanistan.

Females had made progress over the past two decades – become high-ranking police officers and regional governors, forming cricket teams — in towns like Kabul and Bamiyan. But now, with the Taliban in cargo, that’s all gone, if women to flee for their lives, hide in their homes of die by the hands of the new government.

For those die being old enough to remember is a heartbreaking recall to a half-century ago when Afghan women started to come out from under the veil – only to have their dreams crushed.

Incredible scenes of women’s liberation in Afghanistan from the 1970s
Laurence Brun Lacombe in Switzerland, 2021.
lacombe in Afghanistan, 1972.
lacombe in Afghanistan, 1972.

French photographer Laurence Brun Lacombe lived in afganistan, with her husband, from 1971 to 1972, and took many photos of women through the land. On the one hand, a lot of what she saw looked like it was for centuries.

“Outside of Kabul, every woman wore the chador [burkha]Lacombe recalls. “I went in the country in the houses of the farmers, to Nuristan and Jalalabad. [As a woman,] I couldn’t travel alone.”

But in Kabul, in the new village, women were exploring new freedoms — taking mixed classes with men and pursuing careers as nurses, professors and government civil servants. “Most women wore the veil and… a few school girls went with just [a head scarf].”

Which required a certain courage.

“Some women were fighting for their rights, but the traditions were very strong, so it wasn’t that easy,” said Lacombe.

One day she came a group of young women in miniskirts. “I was amazed,” the photographer recalls. “I didn’t believe what I saw… They were very… young students and naive.

Women in Afghanistan.

Women in Afghanistan.


students in Kabul, 1972.

students in Kabul, 1972.


School of Nurses and Midwives of “Zoichga” hospital, Kabul.


“It was a small percent of girls and students who would wear wearing short skirts and it was dangerous for them. They can get acid [splashed] on their legs.”

In 1973 it seemed like there was real heap for women in Afghanistan: King Zahir Shah was overthrown in 1973 by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan, a pro-Soviet general who suggested a new Constitution and gave women new rights and freedoms.

But the modernizations were too controversial and the general was murdered five years later. In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States sever ties with the countries government and, together with Britain and China began funding the anti-Soviet mujahideen fighters – who, eventually formed the Taliban.

In the middle of all the fighting, whatever small, hard-won profit by women in the land is gone – no matter how much they are again Today.

lacombe, for one, will always have one place for Afghanistan in her heart: “Everyone me know who has been, this country cannot forget.” But they added”It’s so sad what’s happening right now.”

Young Afghan flight attendant, Kabul.
Young Afghan flight attendant, Kabul.
Laurence BRUN/RAPHOE

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