Putting aside the war in Afghanistan and the thousands of service men and women that have died as a result of more than a decade at war, I would like to talk about, what I believe known true to me, the forgotten war zone.

Afghanistan to me and others I know is nothing more than a desert land that is the stage to the war on terror and the Taliban. I began my journey from the unknown when I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hossein last year. With every page that turned unfolded another heartbreaking tale of two women living in Kabul city before the Soviet Union and after the Taliban. The story uncovers a world of hidden beauty, friendship and love that presents itself throughout the tale. With every snotty tissue and with every tear drop I couldn’t and can’t stop thinking about the injustice that exists for the people of Afghanistan. Who are the ruled of the country and what must they do to regain their freedom?

As a woman of the west with an eastern upbringing I understand the male/ female roles within the family from an eastern perspective. While I may not agree with it it’s still something I am familiar with, but what I have learnt of the role of the female in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime shocks me to my core.

For those that are unaware, when the Taliban moved into the city of Kabul (once a cosmopolitan city known as the Paris of Central Asia) a number of laws were implemented. Women are prevented from walking alone without the company of a male relative, women must not have education or employment, women must wear the full burqa and women must not deny their husbands sexual gratification at any time, amongst many more. “When the Taliban took over no longer did you see a women’s face in the crowd” (The Bookseller of Kabul). This quote, for me, summarises the extent of women’s suffering in the country that was once famous for its artisan pottery and quilts making.

Alongside this the men in Afghanistan must also abide by the law set by the Taliban. Men must wear Islamic clothing, men must pray five times a day and men must provide for their “womenfolk”. At first glance this may not seem very strict but there is still massive affliction faced by these men. How can a man stand by while a widow is beaten by the religious police in the street for going shopping to provide for her maleless family? How can a man stand by while his family wither with starvation and disease as the only breadwinner? In my eyes I only see the kind hearted man that must flight with his emotion and his forced responsibility because without him what happens to his wife, his child, his mother, his father and even his sister? I believe the role of a man in this society is to obey, be blind and forget.

A country tormented by a power thirsty regime is one that will struggle to regain its independence. When conversations persist about the war in Afghanistan I can no longer simply look at the war alone. It is the people that we need to support, the children that are living without childhoods and girls without education, and the elderly that see its once beautiful country simply in their depleting memories. My heart is tormented with the thought of these people and my tissues are still snotty and my western mind frame is still to see a brighter future, because without that what more is there?

I have written this post to remind myself that when there is war there is more than the service men and women, there is more than the gunfire, there is more than the peace keeping speeches. I thank our country for lending a hand and I hope that good has come of it because we cannot and should not believe all that is in the news. My thoughts are with all those who have lost lives due to the barbaric oppression enforced by the Taliban and I pray for a Thousand Splendid Suns for the people of Afghanistan.