“Even if we lose our Lives” – Amnesty International and the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan

Imagine not being able to read or write.  Not because you are unintelligent or too stupid to learn, but because in your country it is forbidden.  Not forbidden for all, though – but only forbidden for women.  Imagine having no rights, having no say in your own life.  No say in who you marry.  No say in your health.  Imagine facing violence and brutality on a daily basis – not just from strangers but also from the people you should be able to trust to care for you, the people who should be there to protect you, not to harm you. Fathers, brothers, uncles, even some of the other women around you: who in an istant can turn on you and inflict pain and humiliation.  And there’s nothing you can do about it.  No safe place to go.  No-one to turn to.  No authorities there to help.

That’s still the fate of far too many women in far too many countries of the world today.  But none more so than in present-day Afghanistan, regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.

From the word go life is harsh: denied education, 87 percent of Afghan women are  illiterate.  Nearly 80 percent are forced into marriage, with over half of all girls married before they are 19 and very many to much older men.  Giving birth without medical help has led to a maternal mortality rate of 400 in every 100,000 – while here in the UK the ratio is only 8. Domestic violence is almost the norm and redress in the courts virtually non-existent.

Under circumstances such as these, you would expect that any women in a position to leave this horrendous situation would do so.  Yet surprisingly there are women who choose to stay and choose to work and fight towards bettering the lives of Afghan women.

Through the play “Even if we Lose our Lives” Amnesty International tells the stories of three such women. It’s challenging and horrific and moving and shocking and wonderful in turn.  The bravery of these women – and the husbands and children who support them – is at times beyond our understanding.  But they fight on.  This play offers insights into into their lives and actions, told through their own words.

St Marks Amnesty Group in Edinburgh recently staged this work and by doing so transformed the all-too-often faceless and nameless people of Afghanistan into real people, suffering and struggling to make their world even a little bit better.  Their humanity and courage is incredible.  Staged by Alison Martin, Hollie Ruddick and Emily Ingram, this is a play to look out for.

Follow this link to see what you can do to support women in Afghanistan:  Women’s rights in Afghanistan: Amnesty International

And for details of the content of the play see the St Marks Group play website: Even if we lose our Lives