Afghan women find freedom in rock
Freedom is sounding for a group of young women in Afghanistan who are plugging in guitars and pounding on drums at the country’s first school of rock.
The Sound Centre music school, which opened in May, gives Afghan youth the rare opportunity to play instruments and form bands.
And while the majority of its students are men, a handful of women are also attending classes, which take place in the sound-proof rooms of a small restaurant in Kabul.
Here they have a safe space to play and enjoy a freedom of expression often denied them.
Unlike most schools in Afghanistan, which segregate the sexes, the founders of the music school – US cellist Robin Ryzek, former Pakistani refugee Humayun Zardan and Australian guitarist Travis Beard – let their female students learn alongside their male peers.
In a Reuters video report, budding guitarist Sahar Fetrat, 16, who attends the school with her older sister, said:
“I always wanted to learn to play rock music and tried to learn in other courses, but they were taught by men and had all male students, so they used to harass us.
“The teachers at this school are used to being around women. The students too. They don’t make it uncomfortable.”
The female students are also allowed to perform in public and take part in the mixed-sex performances the school puts on each week.
But this new-found freedom does not extend far.
Many Afghan women’s rights are steadily being stripped back as the Taliban seek to re-gain power in the run up to the proposed withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.
Just this weekend a video emerged which showed the execution of a woman accused of adultery.
Afghan politician Shah Jahan Yazdanparast said such attacks “will only increase our fear and concern as women in Afghanistan.”
But women at the Sound Centre school are relishing the chance they have been given to rock out and cast off the confines of religious conservatism.
“I want to learn to play rock because I’m a very active and hyper person, and rock is wild and I can be wild playing it,” said Fetrat.