It takes a lot to rattle Shukria Barakzai, a staunch defender of women's rights and one of more than 20 very outspoken women members of parliament in Afghanistan.
But even though she's run two successful parliamentary campaigns and has taken on conservative members of Afghan society, she is shocked by how easily some male members of parliament are now publicly threatening their female counterparts in the middle of parliamentary meetings.
"A (male) member of parliament stood up in our general meeting yesterday and said parliament is not a place for women, your time is up here, you must not pursue this fight for women's rights,” says Ms. Barakzai.
For many of the Afghan women leaders, dealing with sexism and discrimination isn't anything new. But women's rights activists say that male parliamentarians have recently intensified a war of words inside parliament. It's a war that many Afghan women worry echoes a greater issue in society and could reverse public tolerance and support for women's rights.
“I've noticed the rhetoric around women's issues has changed, and conservative members of society and parliament are once again feeling safe to verbally attack women publicly,” says Barakzai. “The Afghan government isn't doing anything about these kinds of public threats and attacks on women. It is almost as if they agree with the conservatives.”
The actions of the male parliamentarians are just one of many reminders to Barakzai and other women here that as the international security forces, foreign diplomats, and advocacy organizations prepare to leave the country in 2014, Afghan women will be left without a key source of support.
BILLIONS WASTED AND AFGHANISTAN IS ALREADY TAKING STEPS TOWARDS TURNING ITSELF INTO EVEN WORST ISLAMIC SHIT HOLE THAN IT WAS BEFORE THE WAR.