Women's rights activist - Afghanistan
Malalai Joya was born in Afghanistan but at the age of 4, in 1982 she and her family fled during the Soviet invasion and Malalai grew up in refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. She finally returned to Afghanistan in 1998 during the reign of the Taliban and began resisting their oppressive rule by creating and running underground schools and clinics for Women and Girls, an act that if discovered would have resulted in certain torture and probable execution.
After the fall of the Taliban, Malalai was one of the very few women selected to represent her province and to attend the assembly to change the Afghan constitution. At this assembly Malalai Joya, just 26, stood up to criticize the western backed warlords now placed in government positions, the very warlords who had pillaged Afghan communities, raped women and girls and killed innocent civilians. The response to her refusal to be silent was quick, with threats on her life at her heels she was forced to flee the assembly.
Malalai was elected to Parliament in 2005 and at her swearing in ceremony, she offered her "condolences" to the people of Afghanistan "for the presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals" in the Parliament. "The people of Afghanistan have recently escaped the Taliban cage but still they are trapped in the cage of those who are called warlords". In 2007 she was suspended from Parliament for raising her voice against warlords and western backed puppets within its ranks.
Since this time Malalai Joya has survived three assassination attempts and must live under the burqa and in a different safe house on each night. She is an unwavering critic of the U.S occupation, the western backed Karzai Government and the Warlords with whom the west has cut deals. She is unapologetically raising her voice in a place, and really in a world that does not appreciate a women’s raised voice. She has many critics who claim she is too loud, not subtle or understated enough, too direct, and uncompromising.
This is a woman who spent most of her first 20 years in refugee camps only to return home to a misogynist nightmare which transformed in to yet another war zone. I think her voice will become louder still!
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