Human Rights Badasses

{August 4, 2007}   Malalai Joya: Badass in a Burqa

Malalai Joya is an Afghan woman. Being an Afghan woman is not easy. I’m not kidding. Anyway, at age 19, she started teaching literacy classes to women. She later opened an orphanage and health clinic. She is the director of the Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities and has received all kinds of cool awards. But kicking ass at life wasn’t enough for her. She went on to become a full-fledged Badass. She ran for Parliament and got the second highest number of votes in her province. What makes her a Badass is that she keeps speaking up no matter how many times people threaten to kill her, attempt to assassinate her (4 times so far), or generally defame her. She is the youngest member of the Parliament, under 30, but she’s brave enough to speak out against the warlords that still infiltrate the Afghan government. She gives in on one point: she wears a burqa when traveling, for her safety. I think this only serves to highlight her badassery. The woman covered head to toe is a sign of submission to the deeply patriarchal culture, a sign that their intimidation is working. But from underneath her burqa, she won’t shut up. My sources below quote her as saying “They will kill me, but they will not kill my voice.” I love it.

Info on Ms. Joya:
From BBC
From the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya
From The Omega Institute, for which Malalai and others will be speaking at a conference on Women, Power, and Peace in September.

Info on Afghan women (you can help!):
With the Feminist Majority Foundation
With Equality Now
Donate to Malalai Hospital (named after another female Afghan Badass, isn’t that crazy? Remind me of this name if/when I have a daughter)

I want to add something about the burqa.  If a woman wants to wear a burqa (as some point out, it’s a safe haven from men leering, at least, and some may like the religious symbol), that’s fine with me.  I have a problem with it when a woman doesn’t want to wear one but has to anyway because otherwise she’ll be assaulted.  Just to clarify.


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