Komorebi Post– The past few years witnessed many initiatives led by young Afghaniartists who use graffiti as a medium to combat injustice against women. Afghanistan is still considered one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, due to “endless cycles of domestic violence and poverty.” Amnesty international recent report documented thousands of cases of violence against women and girls across the country, including beatings, killings and acid attacks. According to the Global Rights survey in 2008 nearly 90 percent of Afghan women have experienced domestic abuse. while 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16.
The problem of violence against Afghan women remains under-reported due to traditional practices, stigmatization and fear of the consequences for the victims. However, artists find graffiti more effective than other media mediums -many families do not watch television- in terms of raising awareness about fundamental issues women struggle with. One of the ongoing initiatives to bring and highlight the voice of women in Afghanistan, started out, as a part of a project promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan through cultural dialogue and psycho-social support, in 2010. A learning container, the idea was to teach girls how to paint, Mahdi Neyazi, 32 years artist and art teacher for around 30 female students explains;
“This is our third time graduating young women, they are painting women’s issues on the walls and thus forcing everyone to realize the cruelty they go through and hopefully realize women’s place in the society… it’s really hard to create positive motivation when graphite is locked in a circle of risks; being arrested by Taliban and at the same time being occupied by poverty, pain and extremely difficult situations. I’m trying my best to have a positive motivating team- people call us pain’s voice and find motive that they can prevent of cruelty, and terrors. It’s our living reality and these are our goals in this learning container””.
The artist dedicates most of his artwork to support and advocate for women’s issues, “It gives me a great feeling when I advocate for women’s issues by painting during time of war and terror. Although It’s hard to maintain a high motivation, in un predictable conditions where anything could happen, but I do my best by painting for women on the walls and it’s my passion.”
Women in Afghanistan
Important work street art and graffiti painted by women such as Shamsia Hassani, and ‘dreaming graffiti’ on many walls, intersections around the city and is spreading in other districts too, like Balkh province. As men usually are out for work and can see the work, even if they don’t want to around the city. Maryam Karimi, 17 years old and one of the new students it’s been around three weeks. she explains;
“Graffiti is an art and I feel powerful since following these lessons. It helps other girls and can reflect our achievements, as women. Graffiti empowers me and motivates me to try my best to prevent of stoning of women or forced marriages”.
But people want change, by allowing this art to exist and encouraging and reinforcing the visual expression. Kawa Khurasani, 28 years old and a photographer He says;
“Graphitic is image of cruelty, force and bad situation of women. Therefore, people of Afghanistan really needy for. We must give a chance to graphite and painters to be voice of suffered women in Afghanistan, but they should not paint or graphing only the violence, war, murder, explosion and suicide because it self is the violence against women. So, they can show and reflect power of women by graphing and painting of women’s achievements, works, abilities and their roles on training and education in my country. I can guarantee that it creates positive energy and high motivation for women and encourage them too“.