Stop blogging and watch Panorama

Typed up as watched:

In 2001 we went in to get Osama but he's still free so have we made any difference?

The youngest soldier to die was 18. His mother hopes it wasn't for nothing. Has he made a difference?

Have women benefited from him laying down his life? Beneath the burka we have much in common with these women and before the Taliban they didn't have to wear it. In 1989 the world was shocked by Afghanistan's stoning of a woman. 8 years after Taliban rule, women are still downtrodden and any women trying to help are on a hit list like Maria who never knows if she will return home alive after a day's work.During the Taliban years, Maria a lawyer, had to stay home - this was the rule. Maria's children can't go to school for fear of being murdered because she is now so politically active. Women come to Maria for advice, women who are abused.

Women have no protection under the law and male judges reduce jail sentences for men. Women are married as children like Saida who was nine years old. This is the case for 60% of women. Her husband had already killed two former wives. Saida's brothers sold her to this man. This husband would beat her with anything and she lost four babies due to the stress and beatings. He would also sell her for sex with other men, saying she was his daughter. Saida was taken to a shelter in the end where she is being helped to get a divorce. Her husband is unlikely ever to be punished and he prays to be given an opportunity to 'drink her blood'.

They are living in the dark ages. They have no education. These children are forced into marriages and beaten and uneducated.

President Kasi used to have 3 women in his government, now he has just one.

8 out of 10 women suffer domestic violence. Zeinab set herself on fire to escape her husband. Most of the women who do this die before help comes but one unit treats about 100 cases a year. One 14 year old will not survive, she did it when her father tried to marry her to an older man.

Zeinab has to go back to her husband so she can care for her kids - she hopes not to survive!

Women's minister Ghanzvar thinks it might take 20 years for laws to become effective.

Maryam is one activist who hopes to change things. She is pushing boundries and was able to go on TV by wearing a hijab, otherwise being on TV is considered shameful for women. She entered the entrepreneurs' show Dragon's Den Afghanistan-style. But she was forced to leave her village and her brothers were tortured as a consequence. But she continued with the show and won 10,000 dollars, a fortune and she bought land with the winnings so she can built a factory and employ other women.

Women should be allowed to come out of the home and work. For this they need educating but 80% are illiterate. The next generation now is full of ambition and could change the political gender landscape.

The Taliban threaten teachers and attack schools with gas. But these girls return to school unafraid - they are so desperate to forge out a career. They are ambitious to be doctors etc and make a difference. Our husbands must allow us to become something, they say.

Has the government backtracked on its promises to help women. 37% women was supposed to make up parliament but they have failed to be heard and some are in hiding. Plans to make a difference are quashed for parliament contains warlords. Fawzia Kofi and her daughters have visited their constituency but Fawzia is not hopeful. The international community grants are not getting into the hands of the women and children - the poor.

The government is weak and corrupt. Just this year the president signed a law which would have made rape within marriage legal until the international community intervened. He has failed women, even his own wife, who is a doctor and worked during the Taliban years has a friend who has known her for years who wonders why this high profile wife does nothing politically. The president wouldn't talk about why this is or why he wouldn't do more for women.

So this wife doesn't act because her husband doesn't like her to go out.

All that money and all those lives - for what? Lucy Aldridge who lost her soldier son believes that the soldiers need to be there to help.

This week there will be an election. 510 million ponds will be spent on projects in Afghanistan over the course of the next few years.


Please pray for our suffering sisters. They are living in a world where men have interpreted religion so that they have no voice, no dignity, no freedom, no choice.

Our faiths must free themselves from this way of systematising, chaining and limiting the freedoms of women who are made to be whole, free and fully human. Help us, dear God to cast off the real and mental burkas everywhere and across all faiths.

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