Laila Haidari: The Woman Who Breaks Taboos

Laila Haidari: The Woman Who Breaks Taboos

Laila Haidari is a woman activist, whose purpose is to raise awareness of human rights in all spheres of society.

Haidari also, watches over some vulnerable sectors, like children, the elderly, and youth. Her participation in society has been very important; from the beginning of her career in politics, she has been taking care, above all, of people with drug problems, and women´s rights.

Haidari established a drug rehabilitation center, motivated by the condition of her brother, who was found living under a bridge due to the use of psychoactive substances, and the growing drug problem in Afghanistan, the shortage of government-provided shelters for addicted people. The center was named, “Mother Camp“; It receives no government funding or foreign aid, as it is the only private drug rehabilitation center in the city. Because of this, the activist, Laila Haidari, opened a restaurant, “Taj Begum”, in Kabul, to finance the Mother Camp.

It is important to highlight the relevance of this restaurant since it is run by women, something that is not common in Afghanistan and is even prohibited; it also provides a space where married and single people, men and women, can socialize together, something that is considered a cultural taboo in the local community.

That restaurant, in addition to breaking social stigmas, directly helps “Mother Camp“, since it employs people who lived in Mother Camp.

Unfortunately, Haidari’s restaurant was raided by the police on multiple occasions, due to all the factors already mentioned, as this represents not only that men and women share the same space, and the leadership of women, but also the irreverence and “rebelliousness” of Haidari, who does not always wear a headscarf, and who is a determined, strong, and independent woman.

It is known, that the Middle East and some Asian countries are quite strict about their culture and their norms since they are governed, above all, by their marked religion. This has brought various social problems that inevitably affect women greatly. This is affirmed due to several testimonies from female voices, and also, of course, due to Laila’s own experience, well Laila and her family had to move to Afghanistan as refugees, which represented a crisis in all aspects within her family, and then, she was forced to marry a mullah in his thirties at the age of 12, having her first child at the age of 13. Later, however, when her husband allowed her to attend religion classes, Haidari secretly studied other subjects, eventually earning a college degree in filmmaking.

Those experiences gave her not only power, more than intellectual, and personal power, which prompted her to divorce and help all those abandoned by the State, including women, considered dependent and in the shadow of their husbands and male figures of power, being strongly dejected and affected due to the same Afghan culture, ignoring their rights.

Laila Haidari has become, due to her history and her social work, a figure of courage, showing the world how powerful and independent women are, and deserve to be; and also, recognizing the value of human beings.

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