Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights
By Krista Mahr and Mirwais Harooni
KABUL (Reuters) - A group of Afghan men marched through the capital, Kabul, on Thursday to draw attention to women's rights by donning head-to-toe burqas that for many people worldwide have come to symbolize the suppression of women.
The hardline Taliban forced women to wear burqas in public during their rule in the 1990s and concern is growing in Afghanistan and among its allies that gains for women made since the 2001 U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban are at risk.
The men marched under a leaden sky, with the bright blue burqas falling over their heads down to muddy sneakers and boots.
The demonstrators, associated with a group called Afghan Peace Volunteers, said they organized the march 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," said activist Basir, 29, who uses one name.
"One of the best ways to understand how women feel is to walk around and wear a burqa."
The burqa covers the entire body, with a mesh fabric window to see through. Though a symbol of Taliban treatment of women, it remains common in many parts of Afghanistan.
The march by about 20 men drew a mixed reaction. Continued...