Talking Taboo: Breaking Free from the culture of "Honour" and Shame
Afghan Women in the Diaspora presents our launch event in London, a conference entitled, "Talking Taboo: Breaking Free of the Culture of 'Honour' & Shame." We have brought together dynamic Afghan women from a myriad of industries to discuss the issues we face as a community and the solutions that will help us overcome what holds us back, namely the culture of shame which places the sole responsibility of a family's "honour" upon a woman's shoulders. This is the first time in history that Afghan women, and particularly young Afghan women have come together internationally to discuss themes of patriarchal oppression through the lens of intersectionalism. The conference will include several speakers, a panel discussion, performances and Afghan snacks! Come join us as we welcome professors, professionals, activists, and artists to share their stories and speak truth to power.
Our panelists are:
Sana Safi: Sana Safi is a producer and lead presenter for the daily BBC Pashto TV news programme, BBC Naray Da Wakht (BBC World Right Now). Sana joined BBC World Service – of which BBC Pashto is part – in 2006 as a field reporter in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. She then worked as a BBC Pashto radio and TV producer and presenter, based in London.
As presenter of the BBC Pashto TV news programme, Sana was the first broadcast journalist to interview Afghanistan’s First Lady, Rula Ghani, after her husband, Ashraf Ghani, took office in 2014. In 2015, Safi was given a rare access to some of Afghanistan’s rising super rich class in Dubai as well as Kabul’s exclusive addresses, to discuss their vision for the future of their country. Before joining the BBC, Sana worked as the only female journalist in Jalalabad’s state-run radio and television station, RTAJ. She also headed an educational institution in Jalalabad, which was providing literacy and numeracy classes for women and children who had been deprived of education under the Taliban regime. Apart from her journalistic work, Safi is known for her fictional writings in Pashto. She is the author of a children’s book and a collection of short stories, “On the Banks of the River Thames” and has completed her studies in Journalism and Media and Political Science.
Dr Ayesha Ahmed: Ayesha’s background is philosophy, religion and psychoanalysis with a PhD in medical ethics. She is a lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law at St George's University of London and Honourary Lecturer at the Institute for Global Health. She also sit on the Clinical Ethics Committee at Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. She specialises in transcultural psychiatry and gender-based violence and conflict related trauma. Currently she has a funded research project in Afghanistan investigating trauma therapeutic interventions for gender-based violence in Safe Houses using traditional story-telling. She is also am a writer of poetry with a particular interest in exiled writers and write for the British Medical Journal Medical Humanities online blog where she write on global health humanities.
Zahra Rasouli: Zahra Rasouli is a women's rights activist and gender expert from Afghanistan. She is currently based in the UK and is working as an Advisor and Advocate at the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) supporting victims and survivors of violence against women and girls, including "honour" based violence, forced marriage and spouse abandonment. As a public speaker, Zahra advocates for Afghan women's rights, both in the UK and Afghanistan. Zahra is also a researcher, currently focussing on the access of Afghan women to the UK's labour market. Previously, her roles in Afghanistan included working as a consultant with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Afghan Women Business Federation.
Crystal Keshawrz: Crystal Keshawarz is a co-founder of Afghan Women in the Diaspora, and through this network she works to empower Afghan women by confronting the culture of honor and shame which limits their agency. Crystal is a writer, poet, speaker, and liberator based in Southern California. As a writer, she has written monologues that have been performed by Mayor Garcetti, Marianne Williamson, Reza Aslan, and Elizabeth Espinoza. As a poet, she has performed before foreign dignitaries and LA city officials. As a speaker in the Muslim Women Speakers Movement, she engages in peacemaking to combat Islamophobia and uplift Muslim women. She is currently Director of Communications for Muslims for Progressive Values, a Los Angeles based, grassroots human rights organization with consultative status at the United Nations. Her work with MPV was recently featured in UpWorthy.
Key Note Speech by Nelufar Hedayat
Nelufar is a journalist and presenter who has worked across the BBC, Channel 4 and The Guardian. Nelufar’s work has often focused on the cultural upheaval experienced by women, children and families in conflict zones and hostile places. She is currently working on a series called Trafficking for American broadcaster Fusion made by award winning production company Lightbox. In these amazing films Nelufar will follow illegal trades of precious minerals, counterfeit drugs, endangered species and even people around the globe. She will travel through Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas as she chronicles the profit-driven dealers, compliant middlemen, bribe-taking officials, poachers and smugglers and uncovers vast transportation networks, packaging factories and safe houses.
In 2015, Nel filmed her second programme for Unreported World, in which she met the health workers risking their lives to vaccinate children against polio in Pakistan, where the Taliban actively target and kill polio health workers. Her first Unreported World was filmed in Vietnam, where she investigated how dog thieves are making millions in the highly lucrative and illegal dog meat trade and are stealing thousands of pet dogs from family homes to meet demand. Nelufar has also been a reporter for multi-award winning Channel 4 News, covering domestic issues for the programme sine 2014.
In the six years Nelufar worked for the BBC, she presented, co-produced and wrote documentaries for television and radio, including the award winning Women, Weddings, War and Me, Shot for Going to School and Music, Money & Hip Hop Honeys. She also presented and hosted the flagship live news programme Newsround for 3 years winning an award for her short film The Kids of Kabul.
Nelufar has produced and written radio documentaries and features for BBC Radio 4 on Afghan child suicide bombers and on faith and marriage for BBC 1xtra. She also writes regularly for the investigative online magazine GlamMonitor.com focusing on the hidden and not so beautiful world of the fashion and beauty industry and has written articles for The Mirror and Guardian.
The event will showcase work of Sabiha Mahmoud, a freelance photojournalist base in the UK currently documenting stories of Pashtoon women in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Sabiha blogs at https://lifethroughthecameralens.com/
Youtuber Zulaikha Homaira's special video created for AWD and Sohaila Nazari.