Afghan men wear burqas to campaign for women's rights
A group of Afghan men marched through the capital Kabul in burqas to campaign for women's rights.
The men marched on Thursday dressed head-to-toe in bright blue burqas, clothing that covers with female body and has mesh over the face.
The idea was to draw attention to women's rights by wearing the clothing that has, for many people, come to symbolise the suppression of women.
It took place ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.
"Our authorities will be celebrating International Women's Day in big hotels, but we wanted to take it to the streets," activist Basir, 29, told Reuters.
"One of the best ways to understand how women feel is to walk around and wear a burqa."
Several of the men, who are associated with a group called Afghan Peace Volunteers, said wearing a burqa felt "like a prison". They carried signs reading: "equality," and "Don't tell women what to wear, you should cover your eyes".
The Taliban forced women to wear burqas in public during their rule in the 1990s, but it still remains common in many parts of Afghanistan.
Progress for women's rights has been made in recent years, but human rights organisations are worried that much of that is now being undone.
The march, which was attended by about 20 men, drew mixed reactions from onlookers.
“Today’s protest against the burqa is a western move,” one man told an ITN reporter. “The women should not be deceived by this move because Islam gives women the best rights."
Traffic policeman Javed Haidari, 24, said: "What's the point of this? All of the women in my family wear burqas. I wouldn't let them go out without one."
Some female passers-by were also as unenthusiastic.
"We don't need anyone to defend our rights," said Medina Ali, a 16-year-old student wearing a black veil that showed only her eyes and woolly gloves on a cold morning. "This is just a foreign project to create a bad image for the burqa and Afghanistan. They're trying to make those of us who cover our faces feel bad."
An older woman, who wore a burqa, was less affronted.
"My husband and son tell me I should take my burqa off," said Bibi Gul. "But I'm used to it. I've been wearing this for 35 years."
Radhika Sanghani, 08/03/2015
|Tuesday 20 June|
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