Cartooning and women in Afghanistan It’s 15th of August 2021, we are celebrating the Independence Day in India. As the day evolves I sink in the warm comfort of my bean bag and switch on the idiot box. Taliban has taken control of Kabul is the highlight of the day, every possible channel as also all forms of media chant the same. Visibly agitated by the developments I sit there undecided. In the days to follow the media shares disturbing visuals and commentaries depicting existential crisis, despair, death and more. Being a member of global cartoonists family, many requests pour in for submission of cartoon especially in the context of women in Afghanistan. For days together I watch, read, hear about the developments in a far off land of Afghanistan. I neither draw nor write. It’s like I have self muted.Too numbed to react or respond I just continue to devour the disturbing happenings. It’s almost a week unpredictably I find myself out of the blue, drawing about women in Afghanistan. In one go I draw a couple of cartoons and I hastily share it and submit it to various fora. As I draw, subconsciously, I experience a faint sense of unease, the Charles Hebdo issue, the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty, and even as I pen this article, the gunning done of a lone wolf who went on a stabbing spree in New Zealand, sends chill down my spine. I’m uncertain as to who may take offence of my work. But, I’m committed to my fraternity in particular and to humanity at large. Cartoons play an important and responsible role. It’s not a random, fancy doodle to be brushed aside thoughtlessly. Cartooning, involves a preliminary study of the subject at hand to ensure the final work is unbiased, sans personal prejudices and reflection of contemporary times in a true and just manner. Cartoons facilitate re -conceptualisation of events, identifying the absurdity and futility of happenings and if possible working out probable solutions. The power of cartoons certainly cannot be undermined. Cartoons drawn here in the Afghan context, are less about ridiculing and more about creating awareness and drawing attention to the complex socio-political developments and the resultant violence and violation particularly highlighting pathetic conditions of women and children.
Undoubtedly, time and again we find ourselves in troubling and challenging times. Yet, the bottom line is-' it’s peace, freedom and a life of dignity' , that we all inherently aspire. A trait that cuts across all geopolitical and other forms of barriers. Cartoon is a mere reminder of this truth. it’s a double edged sword that needs to be employed cautiously more for healing rather than wounding. I would conclude with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson "Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding." (Excerpts from Indiatoons Oct/ Nov 2021)