October 25, 2021


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Is this a viral photo of college girls in mini skirts representing the lives of Afghan women in the 1970s?

Afghan women “Can work, study and (…) be actively involved in daily life”. Taliban spokesman Jabihullah Mujahid made the promise during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, after capturing the capital.. But this Commitment is already contradicted by facts. In areas controlled by the fundamentalist Islamic group, women’s rights are being called into question: education is banned after the age of 7, forced marriages, individual movements are banned … Afghan women in contact with France fear for their freedom. New power.

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To illustrate this concern, many Internet users have posted the same photo on social networks. A photo of three young Afghan women walking down a street in Kabul in 1972 wearing mini skirts. “Golden Age”, One of these internet users comments, he pretends to be the author of the philosophy. But was this figure representative of the lives of Afghan women in the 1970s? Is its use appropriate to compare with Afghanistan under Taliban rule?

This photo is real. It is on the agency’s list Getty Images. The snapshot was taken in 1972 in Afghanistan. Myth confirms what we see “Young students wearing mini skirts walking down the street” In Kabul, more precisely “In the neighborhood Sahar-i-Nao, The “New city”, Centered on supermarkets, hotels and banks north of the historic city center.

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But the description of the film indicates that only at that time “Some liberated women will wear mini skirts” They dare to do it “Despite strong criticism from most of Afghanistan, it is still linked to Muslim traditions.”. The harsh criticism, but also the physical violence, adds to the idea that comes with the photo: “Mullahs, Muslim clerics, do not hesitate to throw acid on the bare feet of liberated young women.”

This picture was taken by Swiss photographer Lawrence Brun, as part of a report “Living conditions of Afghan women in the 1970s”, Title “Afghan Women Between Tradition and Modernity”, Accurate Kalames, An online list of archives and manuscripts of higher education, in which a series of forty films may be consulted.

Other images from this photo gallery confirm that a woman in a mini-skirt and others dressed in a Western-style mini-skirt on a street in Kabul, which will become a republic a year later in 1972, in the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In a burqa, a full veil.

On the street in the city of Afghanistan (name not mentioned), in 1972.

Alex Shams, a PhD student in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago (USA), commented that this snapshot of three Afghan women in mini skirts in Kabul did not in any way represent the situation of Afghan women in the 1970s. An article on this photo (Article in English). “The style of dress adopted by these young women was limited to those on the comfortable streets of Kabul and accessing education and opportunities. Their numbers were very small at the time.”, The educator explains.

“There was tolerance for a variety of lifestyles”, Heather Barr, a researcher at the NGO Human Rights Watch, explained to the US media Verify your truth* In 2017. “But in the 1960s and 1970s there were a lot of women – even in urban areas – whose lives were ruled by the Puritan, and those who did not go out to study, did not go to work.” The burqa is an Islamic practice that prevents men from looking at women and forces women to cover their bodies to cover their shapes.

A reality then lived very conservatively in the countryside of the country. However, at the time of this shooting, the cities of Afghanistan had accumulated only 12.41% of the population, 26% by 2020, reports World Bank*.

In 1972 in Kabul (Afghanistan) two Afghan women with children crossed the street.

According to Alex Shams, it would be a mistake to compare this photo. “The freedom to wear whatever clothes you choose is an integral part of freedom, but it’s not the only component of it. Femininity cannot be reduced to clothing choices.”, The analyst comments. Under the late Afghan monarchy in 1973, “Most women do not have access to education or work outside the home”, A doctoral student in sociocultural anthropology.

On the contrary, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, “Many women in many parts of society fought for their rights, went to university and found work.” In 2009, 24.8% of students at the University of Afghanistan were students LakeUnited Nations Conference on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (In PDF *). In 2019, 21.8% of women over the age of 15 worked in Afghanistan, compared to 15% when the Taliban fell in 2001. International Labor Organization*.

“Today, a lot of Afghan women go to university wearing veils, but these photos are not so widespread.”

Alex Shams

He holds a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago

The use of this photo is not without any effect on recent history. In 2017, precisely US President Donald Trump’s military adviser persuaded him to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan. “Western standards can come back to show him what he was before.”, Said Washington Post*. The clich has already been widely shared and mentioned on social networks BuzzFeed*.

PhD student Alex Shams points out “Political instrumentation” Misleading, this is not it “What is Islam’s opposition to Western civilization?”. “Thanks to the western countries for wearing these mini-skirts makes us believe that women’s rights have been achieved., Educational Analysis. But it also destroys the fact that Afghan women fought for their own rights and to change society.

* These links refer to articles or documents in English.