Sometimes it is apparent that there are things missing in our lives. But we don’t see it until someone actually creates these ideas, opportunities or places and drags them into existence.
A couple of days ago, was women’s day. People post on facebook, put up posters or wear badges. But have you wondered what needs to change and what is missing in our midst? The group ‘young women for change’, a refreshing mix of energetic women and supportive young men, has understood the need of Afghan women and created
An internet cafe for women in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In our current world, access to internet and information as well as communication with friends and family, is being taken more and more for granted, even in a place like Afghanistan, with a growing number of young people who use mobile phones and computers. But not everyone has internet access at home. Many people use internet cafes: for chatting, emailing, facebooking or doing their job and university application. Anyone who has been living in Afghanistan knows that the internet cafes are male dominated places, owned by men, used by men. Even if these places were less uncomfortable or shady, no respectable woman would ever enter one.
So where to gather information, connect with the world out there, understand more from its complexity or merely send off an application?
The internet café has been named after Sahar Gul, a young Afghan woman who has become a symbol of suffering and strength, the combination that describes many Afghan women –despite being stereotyping it here- so well. Sahar Gul was married off when she was 15. Seven months later she was found in a prison cell, which was her in laws toilett. She had been imprisoned and tortured by her in laws because she refused to prostitute herself, which the in law family tried to force upon her. She was in a critical condition when she reached hospital, but she survived, despite the fact that her finger nails got ripped out of her fingers, for example. ‘Young women for change’ members visited Sahar Gul in hospital and became friends with her. They cheered her up and decided to name the internet café after her, to show the remarkable strength of women and to give a safe place for women in the future.The internet café is a safe place, indeed.
Tugged away in a side street in one of the more unassuming quarters of Afghanistan’s capital, it invites with a sign on the door, but shields the visitors with a clever window system with which you can look out but not in, cause the windows have a mirroring effect on the outside. Once inside you’re not being welcomed by the usual –less sterile than you might think- cabins for internet users, but by a warm atmosphere: a sitting area on the floor with comfortable cussions and small tables to put the internet café’s laptops. And in between the open laptops and tables, one can already see the seed that has been sown by this place: women are sitting together and talking, exchanging, getting to know each other. Women who might have never shared a word with each other in different circumstances. A place has been created not only for sharing of information and usage of internet, but also to share solidarity, dreams, ideas and maybe make connections that can grow into great new friendships or engagement in society. With this internet café, the first women’s internet café in Afghanistan, so much more has been given to this country than just another internet café. It has been given an opportunity, a potential, and a cell for change.