GENDER BATTLE

Afghanistan's Veiled Feminists

The feminist fight for Afghan women by Afghan women has long taken place underground and from behind burkas. Though the garments are a symbol of the harsh oppression of women, the feminists in the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, or Rawa, have come to embrace it. "I don't like the burqa, but sometimes I have no choice when I'm moving around Kabul—it's a great disguise," one member said. With around 2,000 women, Rawa operates secretly using a cell structure to draw the world’s attention—under the Taliban, it ran hidden schools for girls and filmed state killings of women. Today, Rawa is responsible for eight orphanages and female literacy classes. Yet, according to one member, "The government sees Rawa as Maoist planning to overthrow the government, and against the mujahideen.”