In Afghanistan under Taliban rule, women were forbidden to work or go to school,
they could not leave their homes without a male chaperone, and they could not be
seen without a head-to-toe covering called the burqa. A woman's
slightest infractions were met with brutal public beatings. That is why it is
both appropriate and incredible that the sole effective civil resistance to
Taliban rule was made by women. Veiled Courage reveals the remarkable
bravery and spirit of the women of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of
Afghanistan (RAWA), whose daring clandestine activities defied the forces of the
Taliban and earned the world's fierce admiration.
The complete subordination of women was one of the first acts of the Taliban.
But the women of RAWA refused to cower. They used the burqa to their advantage,
secretly photographing Taliban beatings and executions, and posting the gruesome
pictures on their multi-language website, rawa.org, which is read around the
world. They organized to educate girls and women in underground schools and to
run small businesses in the border towns of Pakistan that allowed widows to
support their families.
If caught, any RAWA activist would have faced sure death. Yet they persisted.
With the overthrow of the Taliban now a reality, RAWA faces a new challenge:
defeating the powers of Islamic fundamentalism of which the Taliban are only one
face and helping build a society in which women are guaranteed full human
Cheryl Benard, an American sociologist and an important advisor to RAWA,
uses her inside access to write the first behind-the-scenes story of RAWA and
its remarkably brave women. Veiled Courage will change the way people think of Afghanistan, casting its people and its future in a new, more hopeful
A timely insider's account of the bad fortunes of Afghan women under the Taliban
regime-and its predecessors and likely its successors as well. Novelist and
policy analyst Benard (Turning on the Girls, 2001, etc.), who is married to an
Afghan dissident and has traveled widely in southwestern Asia.
Library Journal - Sandra Issacson
This work should serve as a call to arms
for free women everywhere. Benard makes it clear that the suppression of women
is rooted in Islamic fundamentalism and will not automatically end after the
Taliban are removed.
Addressing the physical, intellectual and emotional oppression of Afghan women,
this is a powerful though clearly hastily assembled book.
Booklist - Kristine Huntley
This essential, important book will be sought by those
curious about resistance in Afghanistan.
Geraldine Brooks, author of Years of Wonder and Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
These are dispatches from a hidden war, memoirs of a struggle whose heroics rival, and deserve to be as celebrated, as those of the French resistance or the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Cheryl Benard's research among unimaginably courageous Afghan women is, by turns, horrifying, enlightening and inspiring.
Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban
For too long Afghan women have been depicted as merely the victims of war,
repression and extremist ideologies. Now for the first time we hear the voices
of those Afghan women who for years have silently stood up to oppression and
resisted. Cheryl Benard has done a major service to Afghan women and women
everywhere by letting us hear the caged birds sing. An enormously important book
as the world sets out to help Afghanistan rebuild.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Islam Abor Hunting book This book has been written attacking Islam as always. Showing Islam as an aggressive, racial, extreme religion is such a cheap way for this author to ensure her book is sold. Yes, I am Muslim and I know exactly what I am talking about. After... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kris Lindbeck
The stories in this book go right to your heart. The women whose stories the author tells are heroines who have risked their lives to bring education and health care to women under Taliban rule, and are gearing up for a new struggle against... Read More
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...