Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tea With the Taliban

Film and presentation to focus on Afghan women’s justice


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

Women in Afghanistan continue to wear burkas, viewed by many as a symbol of repression. Courtesy photo

Karen Day, a resident of Hailey and Boise, is a journalist who seeks adventure. Day's recent trip to Afghanistan for a story for the national women's magazine Marie Claire has led her to do more than just write about what she experiences—she has become an activist.

Day will host an evening, "Tea With the Taliban: Adventures in Third World Journalism," at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. The event will include the world premier of the film, "In-Justice" by TinRoof Productions with Development Films and a presentation about the current state of Afghan women.

"In-Justice" is a 60-minute documentary about women and children sentenced to prison for moral crimes in Afghanistan. The women in the film were imprisoned for refusing to marry their rapist. Some were sent to jail with their children, and in some cases their fathers testified against them to maintain the "honor" of the family.

Day said gender-based bias continues to exist in the Afghan justice system even though the U.S. has spends up to $100 million to attempt to impart internationally recognized standards of law in an ancient, Islamic society, which deems women inferior by birth.

Day said she originally wrote her story for Marie Claire to create awareness for Afghan women and children who have been imprisoned for moral crimes.

"I jumped from journalist to activist," she said. "For 12 years, I've been making a living writing and always being a watcher. Thanks to Marie Claire's commitment, I've become an activist and founder of an NGO (nongovernmental organization)."

Day started the Afghan Women's Justice Project to help fund legal aid for these women. She's been in Afghanistan several times in the past two years touring prisons. Americans cannot donate directly to Afghan NGOs for tax deductions, so the Afghan Women's Justice Project serves as a tax-deductible channel directly to NGOs with the following websites: www.awec.info, www.womenforafghanwomen.org and www.childlightfoundation.org. All profits from the evening's event will go to these NGOs to improve the lives of the imprisoned women and children.

"The Taliban have just shaved their beards and changed their business cards, but there's no real change," she said. "The only difference is everyone has a cell phone."

Day's stories are first-hand experiences about how women are treated in Afghanistan.

"I've brought this event to Sun Valley because I'm a local and the population in Sun Valley is so unique," she said. "It's globally aware, well read and generous."

Day said she's a voyeur and lives dangerously by choice.

"I want to apologize for America," she said. "We've not made that much of a difference in the daily life of Afghanistan. I feel a moral obligation to this."

Tickets are $10 available at the door. In addition, "Not Guilty" T-shirts will be on sale at the event for $25 to help the project. One T-shirt can buy a child milk for a month or school supplies for 10 prisoners. A petition at the Marie Claire website asks the White House to apply as much power to protecting Afghan women's rights as it does eradicating the Taliban. For details, visit www.marieclaire.com, which also has information on buying "Not Guilty" T-shirts.

Day said she will talk about the tragic realities and absurd follies of being a Third World journalist. She will be available after the film for Q & A.

Photo exhibit

In conjunction with the presentation "Tea with the Taliban: Adventures in Third World Journalism" and the screening of the documentary film "In-Justice," a photo exhibition and silent auction will be ongoing until Thursday, March 24, at Chapter One Books in Ketchum.

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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