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IRON WOMAN

This woman braved the catcalls to protest street harassment—in Afghanistan

Reuters/Ahmad Masood
The situation of Afghan women is better than it used to be, but it's still dire.
  • Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

In the fall, a viral video followed a woman down the streets of New York City, where she experienced constant, intrusive, and threatening catcalling from the men that passed her. The clip, part of a campaign aiming to raise awareness about street harassment, struck a nerve, with many women relating to the experience of being clucked at, followed, and dubiously complimented.

This week, a 25-year-old Afghan artist, Kubra Khademi, took a bold step to protest street harassment in her country. In a performance she called “Armor,” she walked around Kabul wearing a metal bodice. (h/t Buzzfeed News).

According to Afghan reports, photos of the Feb. 26 performance went viral on the country’s social media. Reactions were mixed, and included warnings that such campaigns are an attempt to introduce “western culture” in Afghanistan.

Street harassment and violence against women are a huge problem in Afghanistan. Though the situation has improved since the fall of the Taliban, the United Nations says “violence remains an inextricable part of the lives of many Afghan women and girls,” who are forced into marriage, attacked physically, sexually, and psychologically. In 2012, Human Rights Watch estimated that 87% of Afghan women experienced one of those types of violence or coercion.

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