Afghanistan Unveiled

17th May 2007| Channel 4 Dispatches

Five years ago, ‘Beneath the Veil’ revealed the plight of women living under the Taliban in Afghanistan. The film uncovered evidence of women being denied employment, education and any kind of freedom – imprisoned in their own homes.

In ‘Afghanistan Unveiled’, journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy returns to Afghanistan to find out how life has changed for women in the five years since the invasion by America and its allies and to investigate whether women have been ‘liberated’ as President Bush has claimed.

Her journey takes her from the bustling city of Kabul – one vast building site full of shopping malls and warlord palaces – to Herat on the Iranian border, where suicide rates for women are shockingly high, and on to the remote rural areas in the north where Afghan life is at its most basic.

Kabul has become the showcase for women’s rights in Afghanistan – its burgeoning beauty businesses and shops touted as evidence of their freedom. But Sharmeen discovers that life has only changed for a privileged few. Just streets away from one shopping mall she finds homeless women wearing burqas forced to beg, steal and sell their bodies to feed their children.

Sharmeen is taken by one woman to her ‘home’ – a bombed-out block of flats in Western Kabul, an area rarely visited by Western journalists. Here she explains how her husband was killed in the invasion forcing her to beg to ensure her daughters’ survival. This woman is just one of an estimated two million widows in a country where women are dependent on men.

To begin to get an idea about what women like her face everyday, Sharmeen wears a full burqa and a secret camera and joins her on the streets. She records the reactions of the men passing by and how women are still made to feel like second-class citizens.


Reporter: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Executive Producer: David Henshaw