A video of a woman being verbally accosted as she walks the streets of New York City; an outpouring of shared experiences of assault via #YesAllWomen; and now, an Afghan woman wearing a suit of armor to protest sexual harassment in her culture. Artist Kubra Khademi donned the metal plating and took to Kabul’s busy pedestrian streets for nearly 10 minutes during which she was touched, chided, hit, and kicked for her protest, and now she has been forced to go into hiding for her own safety.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have had to put up with men touching me and insulting me in the streets of Kabul,” Khademi told France 24. “And of course, as I grew up, it became worse. This happens to all women here.” She adds that after enduring years of sexual assault, her performance art was an act “to show men that their behaviour is indecent, and to show society what women have to put up with every day.” But her statement was met with further physical and verbal assault, and the Daily News adds that the mob allegedly began throwing stones at her and supporters.
She had planned to walk for a whole 10 minutes (yes, that’s one-zero), but was only able to walk for eight before the crowd of male onlookers grew violent. She tells France 24 that systemic sexism makes protesting misogyny a near impossible feat.
I think the Taliban’s reign and the 13 years of war that followed have destroyed our values and our culture. The rise of extremism and violence has created a lot of frustration, which leads to this type of deviant behavior.
We live in a patriarchal society, where women are seen as second-class citizens. When we complain about sexual harassment, men often say that if a woman wears a proper veil, nobody will bother her. But this is obviously false, since even women who wear a burqa get harassed in the streets.
The only people who cared to shield her from the assaults were a few journalists and friends. Her assailants allegedly showed up to her house later that evening, but she had relocated to a friend's house for sanctuary.
While she currently fears for her safety, Khademi adds that “If I don’t speak up now, one day my daughter will face this sort of harassment, and her daughter after her. My generation has to break this vicious cycle.”