Peacekeeping: Keeping Women Out of the Picture

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April 13, 2007: Part of the reconstruction effort in Afghan is all about ideas. No, not political brainwashing, but getting across concepts like how to avoid the land mines that are still encountered in about fifteen percent of the land, and how to live healthier lives in general. Getting information like this out to a population that is only about 30 percent literate (and only about 16 percent of the women can read) uses radio as much as possible. Television coverage is spotty, and in many parts of the south, conservative Pushtun tribes frown on videos.

Picture books, or presentations using images projected onto a screen (or the side of a building) also run into cultural problems in the south. It's not for nothing that this is Taliban territory. The tribes that tend to support the Taliban, do so because these are the tribes that created the Taliban. That means your visuals cannot show boys and girls together, unless they are very young. Just to be on the safe side, many of the reconstruction projects leave girls and women out of the visuals entirely.

Cultural sensitivity is always an issue when doing reconstruction problems, but the no-nos are particularly numerous in Afghanistan, which is a major reason why Islamic terrorists find the area so receptive to them.

 


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