Documentary raises awareness of Taliban
By Sarah Nestor
Students and faculty gathered at Saint Mary's last night to view the documentary film "Beneath the Veil." The documentary was filmed earlier this year and focuses on women living under the Taliban regime.
Saira Shah, a freelance journalist born in Britain of an Afghan family, produced the film. Shah brought two crew members, but she also went undercover by herself to truly understand how the Afghan people live.
Shah's journey began in Pakistan and delved into the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. RAWA is self-described as "an organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan."
The film showed the women of RAWA risking death by defying the Taliban, educating women, going to beauty salons, and trying to awaken the outside world to the inhumanity of the treatment of women in Afghanistan.
Shah said the film depicted "women trying to keep things normal, in a world gone completely mad."
The law of the Taliban system is there to protect the women, according to the Taliban, but it has actually driven the women into the streets to beg. The women are not allowed to work, so there are over 40,000 widows who have no means to make an income. Women are not allowed to go to male doctors, but women can't work as doctors, which perpetuates the problematic cycle. Afghanistan also has one of the highest rates of death at birth, and one in every four children dies.
"There most be some future for women in Afghanistan. If that's a happy one, that's a different question," Shah told CNN.
The documentary also showed the life of tribal Afghans of the north and their resistance against the Taliban regime. The people spoke of the many civilians that have died because of the resistance and the Taliban's violence. The images included scenes of dead corpses, bloodstains and crying relatives.
Following the documentary, philosophy professor Ann Clark gave a brief history about Afghanistan and its people.
"There is a long history of competition for the rule of Afghanistan. It is a country with a mosaic of different ethnic groups and a tradition of civil war," Clark said.
However, comments in the discussion revolved primarily around the current events about Afghanistan and Sept. 11.
"I wish the discussion had revolved more on the video and not on war. I didn't know they (Afghan women) were so oppressed. I didn't know about how the Taliban treated it's own people, but without current events I never would have known either," Lisa Campbell said.
Many students agreed that they were previously unaware of the Taliban regime's inhumane treatment of its own people.
"I had the opinion, coming in to watch the video, that the Taliban treated its people wrong, but I never new the shocking things that the video showed," Stacy Fikel said. "The little girls talking about their mother's death and then crying and refusing to talk about how the Taliban treated them, it was shocking."
All News Stories for Friday, October 12, 2001