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Behind the mask: Afghan TV program exposes the horror of abuse against women

A scene from Afghanistan's Palwasha TV series, a show that draws attention to the issue of violence against women. Photo ID 233640. 10/06/2007. Kabul, Afghanistan. UN Photo/Jawad Jalali. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

The young Afghan woman was nervous. So was the television director. They were standing outside the Kabul studio of a fledgling broadcast station, minutes before taping the first episode of a new show about abused women.

Sami Mahdi, the program creator, was trying to calm the 16-year-old participant down. At the age of 12, she was married off as a dispute settlement after her brother killed a member of her would-be husband’s family. In Afghanistan, it is known as a “baad,” or punishment, marriage. Having fled to Kabul, she agreed to appear on this show to tell her story from behind the protection of a blue and white mask.

“It was difficult to make her assured that everything is okay. You’re not in trouble. We are your friends,” Mr. Mahdi told the National Post in a telephone interview from Kabul this week.

“She was very nervous until she used the mask. We put the mask on her face and after 15 minutes she was ready to go to the studio.”

via Behind the mask: Afghan TV program exposes the horror of abuse against women.

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