Record number of women to stand in Afghan parliament polls

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Kabul Aug 25 (ANI): A record number of female candidates will stand in Afghanistan's parliament elections next month, regardless of the everyday prejudice and death threats from the Taliban.

Poll monitors said women candidates are finding it difficult to campaign outside a few areas, as objections from conservative hardliners is at a high level.

"With voting billed for 18 September, Kabul's streets have been plastered in posters and billboards, many of which show the faces of would-be female MPs in the capital, the number of whom has more than doubled since 2005. However, many of the posters do not stay up long, or get defaced with slashes of bright red ink," reports The Guardian.

"I have told my team that we just have to expect this sort of thing. I cannot run in Herat, because the people say they will not stand a singer woman like me," said a female candidate Fareda Tarana, whose expensive posters had been torn down on Kabul's busy airport road.

Tarana, who came eighth in Afghan Star - the country's Pop Idol in 2005 has been reportedly receiving ten calls everyday from men raising objections to her candidature as an MP.

The calls are in fact more serious for candidates like Najila Angira, who got a call from a Wardak Taliban commander saying he would kill her.

"He had read my biography, which said I lived outside of Afghanistan during the Taliban time and said 'Why are you saying bad things about the Taliban?" said Angira, adding that the Taliban time is finished.

The situation is reported to be worse in more dangerous provinces outside Kabul.

"A female candidate in isolated Ghor province was forced to abandon her campaign and flee to Kabul. The women candidates were "inundated" with late-night threatening calls both from insurgents, political rivals and even some ordinary people," said the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (Fefa) in a recent report.

"Women's campaigns were barely visible in the most insecure provinces in the south and south-east of the country, and female candidates complained of government indifference to their security concerns," the Fefa added in its report. (ANI)

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