Malalai Joya: Courage under fire

After watching the FLEEF film this week on Malalai Joya (ملالی جوی) I decided to track down some information on her in whatever media I could find. This is what I came up with on the Telegraph, a United Kingdom news production.

There were highs and lows to the way the story was reported, but his was one of my favorite quotes:

But even the burqa cannot always hide Afghanistan’s most famous woman. A visit to a maternity hospital in Kabul last month provoked a security alert. Initial irritation among the pregnant women standing in the dusty heat turned to near hysteria as they realised who was behind the veil. A whisper, ‘It’s Joya, Joya is here,’ spread like electricity through the crowd. Women have been known to walk for miles just to touch her. For them, she is their only real hope for a better future.

While I can’t get behind the overwhelmingly tiresome use of the burqa to represent women’s lives in Afghanistan, I can get behind the use of women finding a powerful woman figure in their political lives. Of speaking of pregnant women without focusing on their pregnancy, or the imminent child, but the woman herself.

Malalai’s presence in the legislature was anything but welcome:

In May this year her enemies retaliated. In an Afghan television interview in Kabul Joya claimed the legislature was ‘worse than a zoo’. When an edited recording was shown in parliament she was found guilty of violating Article 70 of the Rules of Procedure that forbids lawmakers to criticise one another. She was thrown out of parliament and banned until 2009. It was, Joya claimed, a ‘political conspiracy’, and risible given that earlier in the month fellow MPs had made death threats and thrown bottles at her in parliament.

Malalai Joya

She knows that there is a price on her head. ‘They will kill me, but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women,’ she said earlier this year. ‘You can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring.’

What a wonderful quote! What an encouraging woman! Where is Malalai in our stories of Afghani “reconstruction?”


~ by 1womanarmy on April 19, 2008.

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