underCOVER AFGHANISTAN behind the bars دستانت را به من بسپا ر
” In a world where the global geo-political games are played wearing the camouflage vestments of centralised media, where soldiers are deployed to establish and maintain battlefields – the 21st century ‘ploughmen’ – in the name of an oversimplified cause, in a world where contrasts seem to eliminate the shades between, underCOVER steps in amongst the very people, often forgotten, unspotted, unheard, unseen.
underCOVER AFGHANISTAN came to life as a collaboration between Nahid Baqi, Catrinel Doran and Eduard Solaz. It follows the conceptual quest initiated by Catrinel Doran in November 2014, which led to underCOVER FILM an evening of fiction and documentary screenings by women filmmakers from the London Film School in February 2015.
On this occasion, the accent falls on the women of Afghanistan, a territory torn apart by the savage interests of global powers as well as intertribal conflicts. The position of women in society is mainly ‘regulated’ by sharia law, the absolute Islamic judicial system that sets ‘check-in points’ on the road to access the processes of the Lower, Higher and Supreme Courts in the provinces that make up one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Middle East.
Not that long ago, in 2009 the Family Law in Afghanistan ‘was drawn by a conservative cleric and contains clauses saying a wife can be denied food by her husband if she does not satisfy him sexually, and that she must wear make-up if he desires’ .Day in and day out women’s rights and freedoms lie at the discretion of those who may too often be in doubt of the most simple of gestures.
When women run away following forced marriage, rape, years of domestic violence and abuse inflicted upon them, rather than working as a network of support and recovery their families resort to handing them out to the local authorities who, in turn send them to prison.
‘With 169 inmates, the Herat jail is Afghanistan’s second-largest prison for women after a jail in the capital Kabul that holds around 230’ .Though it is said that Afghan female prisoners are freer in jail than outside regular meals, heating, healthcare for themselves and their children born in prison are hard to access. Their basic needs are simply not met. Moreover, as they are bereft of their own possessions ‘women cannot afford employing the services of a defence lawyer who could represent them in court nor paying back for their dishonoring misdeeds (Islamic Kholah)’ .
Among music, poetry and talks taking place over a period of three days (12th to 14th of June 2015) at i’klectik Art Lab a group of Afghan women living and working in UK will be exhibiting their unique household items such as traditional clothes, carpets, Afghani jewellery and photographs with the aim of raising funds for those imprisoned. It is at Nahid’s initiative that this group of Afghan women living in UK will set to reach out for those compelled to a life of suffering and misery behind the bars.” © Catrinel Doran
A minimum 10% from the sale price will contribute towards a fund that aims at easing their condition of life in jail. The fund will be gathered under the observation of a committee of at least three members. Jessica Donati, 2013 ‘Alarm rises for Afghan women prisoners after Western troops leave’, Reuters
 Amie Ferries-Rotman, 2011 ‘Q+A: Women’s rights in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban’, Reuters
 Nahid Baqi