Thursday, 3 September 2009

Carolyn Cole: Afghan Women

Photo © Carolyn Cole/LATimes-All Rights Reserved

The Los Angeles Times has featured an audio slideshow on Afghan Women, photographed and narrated by Carolyn Cole, and produced by Bryan Chan.

The premise of the audio slideshow is that while Afghan women live in a freer environment than what it was under the Taleban, when they were forbidden to leave their homes without a male relative, beaten for trivial infractions, and deprived of schooling and employment, they are still disillusioned by the meager gains achieved despite billions of dollars in international aid, and a sustained military campaign.

The abhorrent constraints of age-old traditions over the treatment of women still remain, and these are reinforced by poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. It is heart-breaking to realize that treatment of women in Afghanistan will not improve as quickly as we all hope, as these traditions are deeply woven in the country's very psyche and fabric, and that it will take decades upon decades of consistent educational efforts coupled with financial assistance to inculcate new attitudes. Forcible change will not work and cannot be practically sustained, but sensible persuasion supported by health and educational programs might.

Carolyn Cole's images in the audio slideshow are well chosen; some are even powerful...however she ought to have worked on her narration a little more. As it stands, she's intoning from a script rather than narrating. I know, photographers are now expected and required to be storytellers, narrators, videographers and lots of other things in between...but that's the new order of things, and we'd better get on with it.