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The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan

She’s been called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan”.
But then again, Malalai Joya comes from a country where you’re taking your life in your hands by simply speaking your mind.  It’s a risk that the elected parliamentarian takes daily.

Malalai Joya collecting one of her many international prizesMalalai Joya’s demands for basic rights for women have earned her a place on the Taliban’s most hated list, and when in 2007 she denounced some of her country’s most excessive warlords, aka, fellow MP’s, they responded by publicly threatening her with rape and execution.  She is still fighting her suspension from Parliament.

Joya passionately demands that all western military forces should leave her country and calls their presence there an Occupation.  She believes that over the course of the last eight years, despite millions of aid dollars and much trumpeted western re-construction efforts, the life of the average Afghan has not improved.   In a recent interview she gave for South Asia Wired during her most recent trip to The Netherlands, she said that “jungle law” still ruled Afghanistan.

Malalai Joya goes to extraordinary lengths just to stay alive.  She can maintain no semblance of what most of us would call a “normal” life.  She sleeps in secret and frequently changed locations; it’s not safe for her to maintain an office to meet the people who seek her help, and she can travel around her country only under the shadow of burqa and bodyguards.

icon for podpress  Malalai Joya talking to Gert Jan Rohmensen for South Asia Wired: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Considering how many women have been killed in Afghanistan for the simple act of going to teach or study at a school, her chances of making her 50th birthday seem slim.

But in response, she has this simple truth for her enemies:
“You can destroy the flowers, but you can never stop the spring.”

1 Comment on “The Bravest Woman in Afghanistan”

  1. #1 Dev Narayan
    on Mar 24th, 2010 at 4:34 am

    The Story of Malalai Joya makes one thoughtful! When we read about the life and struggles of Joya we could feel her sincerity! The intense feelings she expresses introduce us more to a social activist in her than a politician. She lacks tact and diplomacy, which a good politician very much need. Joya is very much brave, but that braveness may not win her the sincere goals she want to achieve for her nation. To change a system its easier to be a part of it and work from within, than being ousted by it and trying hard to change it from outside. It needs time and patience to establish positive change. It would be helpful to have tactful cordial interactions with powerful forces which come from outside, with expressed intentions of establishing a semblance of sanity in a tumultuous situation, than pointing fingers at them in open defiance. For a visionary politician tactful diplomacy would contribute much to his/her cause than tactless outbursts. Malalai Joya is a very sincere and brave person. But as a politician she seems to be an utter failure living on the verge of being defunct! Does that in anyway serve her cause?! What is the spring without the flowers?! No, we must not allow the flowers to be destroyed just because someone do not like the fragrance it emits. Indeed, Joya’s life makes one thoughtful!

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