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Afghan Version of “American Idol” Risky Gamble for Women

Setara's infamous scarf incident on "Afghan Star." Photo courtesy of HBO.

“Afghan Star” is Afganistan’s wildly popular version of “American Idol.”

Men and women are allowed to compete in the competition. However, women in Afghanistan’s conservative, 99-percent Muslim culture court danger by showing off their singing skills.

Even a wiggle onstage can cause trouble for women in a nation that until recently was dominated by the Taliban political movement that severely restricted women’s rights.

Watch HBO’s new documentary “Afghan Star” premiering March 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern time to find out more about the danger.

Setara, one of the female contestants, sang a farewell song after being eliminated. Her scarf slipped from her head. That slip of modesty raised a huge public outcry, with some saying she “deserves to be killed.”

The National Association of Social Workers is committed to improving women’s rights in the United States and around the globe. To learn more, read the NASW’s position on United Nations International Women’s Day by clicking here. NASW’s Human Rights and International Affairs division also has a gender equity Web page that includes information on international issues related to women. To read that click here.

Q: Is it realistic to think social workers can help reverse attitudes toward women in some foreign countries that are considered discriminatory in the West but accepted for religious and cultural reasons in these nations?

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  1. Without opportunity women are imprisoned. I discuss different culture’s oppressive practices with many who offer up comments such as: “Well who are we to tell another culture how to treat women?…” but by each one of us working towards educating and spreading awareness of each country’s oppressive practices-Globally -Advocacy and Change can and are happening. We continue the discussions, and education and we will see faster saturation of knowledge with the help of the electronic information system in place- Awareness begets support and Ideally we would hope then to see a provision of safe options, support, opportunity/ choices for women, when this happens laws change and then begins the “cultural evolution” as the end goal. So start educating and advocating for your sisters!

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