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Descripción de editorial
In Afghanistan under Taliban rule, women were forbidden to work or go to school, they could not leave their homes without a male chaperone, and they could not be seen without a head-to-toe covering called the burqa. A woman’s slightest infractions were met with brutal public beatings. That is why it is both appropriate and incredible that the sole effective civil resistance to Taliban rule was made by women. Veiled Courage reveals the remarkable bravery and spirit of the women of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), whose daring clandestine activities defied the forces of the Taliban and earned the world’s fierce admiration.
The complete subordination of women was one of the first acts of the Taliban. But the women of RAWA refused to cower. They used the burqa to their advantage, secretly photographing Taliban beatings and executions, and posting the gruesome pictures on their multi-language website, rawa.org, which is read around the world. They organized to educate girls and women in underground schools and to run small businesses in the border towns of Pakistan that allowed widows to support their families.
If caught, any RAWA activist would have faced sure death. Yet they persisted.
With the overthrow of the Taliban now a reality, RAWA faces a new challenge: defeating the powers of Islamic fundamentalism of which the Taliban are only one face and helping build a society in which women are guaranteed full human rights.
Cheryl Benard, an American sociologist and an important advisor to RAWA, uses her inside access to write the first behind-the-scenes story of RAWA and its remarkably brave women. Veiled Courage will change the way Americans think of Afghanistan, casting its people and its future in a new, more hopeful light.
Not too long ago, this passionate, partisan book about Afghan women in particular, those associated with RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) might have attracted few readers. Originally planned as a study of a women's organization opposing fundamentalism, the book took on a new and more urgent tenor after September 11: to give "representation to the rural, the uneducated and the female members of the Afghan populace" and to convey the history and present-day role of RAWA, founded in 1977, long before the civil wars, as "the first women's organization whose members are willing to risk their lives explicitly for the issue of women's rights" and "the only group, male or female, to organize an underground resistance against ." Through affecting personal testimony from RAWA's members and supporters (including some men), sociologist and novelist Benard shows "how ordinary people are transformed into resistance fighters." Founded by a charismatic woman named Meena, RAWA's public work has been daring (publishing a bilingual Persian/Pashtu magazine, Payam-e-Zan ) and dangerous (operating schools and medical facilities in refugee camps in the Afghan border area). Their clandestine work has been perilous they've smuggled endangered families to safety, moved survivors of massacres "out of the killing zone" and secretly photographed Taliban beatings, torture and executions. Benard, an adviser to RAWA and the wife of one of President Bush's Afghan advisers, writes with fervor and at times abandon ("Given that level of U.S. air support, a middle-school soccer team could have taken Kabul"). Addressing the physical, intellectual and emotional oppression of Afghan women, this is a powerful though clearly hastily assembled book.