The Hidden Half: A Photo Essay on Women in Afghanistan by Lana Šlezić

Dandelion Salad

Elizabeth Gettelman
July/August 2007 Issue
Mother Jones
Photo Essay by Lana Šlezić

The plight of women under the Taliban regime provided the United States with a tidy moral justification for its invasion of Afghanistan—a talking point that Laura Bush took the lead in driving home. “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women,” Bush said after the 2001 invasion, adding that thanks to America, women were “no longer imprisoned in their homes.” Six years later, the burka is more common than before, an “overwhelming majority” of Afghan women suffer domestic violence, according to aid group Womankind, and honor killings are on the rise. Health care is so threadbare that every 28 minutes a mother dies in childbirth—the secondhighest maternal mortality rate in the world. Girls attend school at half the rate boys do, and in 2006 at least 40 teachers were killed by the Taliban. For two years, Canadian photojournalist Lana Šlezić crisscrossed Afghanistan—from Mazar-e-Sharif in the north to Kandahar in the south—to document these largely hidden realities.

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