Ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans hunger for information about the country that under the Taliban rule, condoned incomprehensible acts of violence. And “that’s a good thing that came out of the tragedy,” according to Rosemarie Skaine, sociologist and author of a just released book, “The Women of Afghanistan Under the Taliban.”
Up until 9/11, not a lot had been written about Afghanistan. Skaine believes that the 9/11 tragedy raised worldwide awareness of the plight of the Afghan people and ultimately led to action to end it.
“We are more aware as a world, not just a country and the world was made a safe place,” she noted.
But Skaine maintains it is far from over. “It is still a very dangerous situation in Afghanistan.”
All the people of Afghanistan have suffered under the rule of the Taliban, but Skaine’s book focuses on the women, who lived especially difficult lives, enduring terrible hardships and being denied basic human rights. They were forced to drape themselves completely and faced an uncertain fate when they simply stepped into the street. They were denied formal education, were restricted in the work they were allowed to do and in their freedom to move about in the country. Health care for women was all but ceased.
“People don’t realize that Afghan women were not always this oppressed,” Skaine said, “They (Afghans) are a moderate people, a kind people and they’ve been persecuted but they’ve never been conquered and they will rebuild. There is hope in large part in the women.”
Skaine said women are important because they will pass along the true traditions of Islam, Not “this hijacked version” of the Taliban.
Against all odds, however women are finding ways to prevail. The book includes interviews conducted and translated by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan that tell the heart breaking, yet inspiring stories of 30 Afghan women.
Skaine, a former Nebraska, grew up in Grand Island and now resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa, with her husband, James, who is retired from the University of Northern Iowa. He assisted with the book’s extensive research and editing.
Skaine’s book actually was in the production stage just before September 11, and it was “hectic,” she said, meeting additional deadlines to adapt her book to address the impact of that horrific, historic day.