On July 8, Afghanistan’s first female nominee for the country’s supreme court, Anisa Rassouli, failed to win enough votes in parliament, coming up just nine votes short of necessary 97 required for her nomination to pass. One member of Parliament, Qazi Nazeer Hanafi, voiced objection to Rassouli’s nomination on the grounds that menstruating women are considered unclean in Islam, not even being allowed to touch the Qur’an. Hanafi reasoned Rassouli’s nomination should be opposed as judges put their hands on the holy book every day and it’s unrealistic for a judge to take a week off every month.
Afghan women are no strangers to such discrimination. In her first book, “Dispatches from the Kabul Café,” Canadian foreign correspondent Heidi Kingstone recounts stories of life in the final years of ISAF-controlled Kabul from 2007 to 2011. After reading “Dispatches,” I took the opportunity to chat with Kingstone and ask her a few questions about the book, as well as her time in Afghanistan. Her experience covering human rights issues and conflict provides a completely unique insight into the situation of women in Afghanistan.