Candidate: Elections key to countering Afghan conservatism

1000 (2)Source: Associated Press

By KATHY GANNON

MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan (AP) — Hameeda Danesh was locked away at age 13 and beaten daily for six months by uncles who abhorred the thought of her attending school. Now, she’s running for a seat in Afghanistan’s Parliament, hoping to guarantee education for the next generation of Afghan girls, despite threats from the Taliban and outraged government-aligned warlords.

Exposing the physical scars she still bears 16 years later, Danesh said that Saturday’s elections are critical for women as Afghanistan’s conservative religious traditions gain momentum and efforts accelerate to find a peace deal with Taliban insurgents, whose last turn at power denied girls the right to attend school and women to work.

“This is why I struggle, because no woman or girl should ever have to face these tortures,” Danesh said, hiding her scars again beneath the long sleeves of her dress.

Seventeen years after the Taliban’s ouster and the injection of hundreds of millions of dollars from an international community outraged by the radical religious regime’s restrictions on women, activists say they still struggle to get laws passed in Parliament that would protect women from violence and guarantee them the right to education and work.

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