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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Daughters of Afghanistan (review)

Since the fall of the Taliban, Islamic fundamentalism has “reasserted itself in a sinister way,” according to Canadian journalist Sally Armstrong, and in this powerful, angry film she documents precisely how little has changed for women in that ravaged country. Through the eyes of four Afghani women — including Dr. Sima Simar, who was, for a short time, a deputy prime minister in the new government until hardline Islamofascists demanded her removal, some going so far as to call for her death — we see how women remain virtual sex slaves to their husbands (whom they are often forced to marry), why women remain afraid to walk the streets and are tormented by angry men even when wearing the burqa, and how entire generations of women continue to be denied basic personhood. Sure, schools for girls have tentatively reopened and women are allowed to drive again, but, Armstrong wonders, for how long? The human-rights disaster for women that occurred under the Taliban happened with full tacit approval of the rest of the world, and it seems destined to happen again under a new regime. Lots of newsy extras — commentaries, interviews, profiles — only add to fuel to righteous fire.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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