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Suspended (and Afghanistan’s youngest) MP, she insisted in Parliament that Afghanistan’s fundamentalists warlords, criminals and drug traffickers should not only have no role in shaping the country’s future, but should also be tried as war criminals. She knows there is a price on her head. “They will kill me, but they will not kill my voice, because it will be the voice of all Afghan women”. She said earlier this year, “you can cut the flower, but you cannot stop the coming of spring”.

A Christian charity Cure International dedicated to transforming the lives of disabled children and their families in the developing world, published statistics that indicate that every day 44 Afghan women die in childbirth: infant mortality rate is 165 per 100,000 live births (compared to 7 per 1000 USA). 87% of women are illiterate, and only 30% receive an education; one in 3 experience physical, psychological or sexual violence; average life expectancy for women is 44, and 80% of women face forced marriages.

Malalai Joya’s vision of the country’s future is pragmatic. ‘Society in my opinion is like a bird, she says. “One wing is man, one wing is woman. When one wing is injured, can the bird fly?”

From: The Telegraph Magazine 29-09-07. www.cureinternational.org.uk

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