National Geographic : 2010 Dec
Unafraid to rally My first time in Afghanistan, the Taliban ruled the country. The only women on the street were beggars---usually widows or wives of disabled men. On many Fridays the Taliban performed public exe- cutions at the sports stadium in Kabul. Ten years later, at a rally for a presidential can- didate in the same stadium, women participated---some in burkas, some not. In this picture, the women who did not want to be photographed covered their faces. In labor on the road Preceding pages: I saw two women on the side of the mountain, in burkas and without a man. In Afghanistan you seldom see an unaccom- panied woman. Noor Nisa, about 18, was pregnant; her water had just broken. Her husband, whose first wife had died during childbirth, was determined to get Noor Nisa to the hospital in Faizabad, a four-hour drive from their village in Badakhshan Prov- ince. His borrowed car broke down, so he went to find another vehicle. I ended up taking Noor Nisa, her mother, and her husband to the hospital, where she delivered a baby girl. My interpreter, who is a doctor, and I were on a mission to photograph maternal health and mortality issues, only to find the entire story waiting for us along a dusty Afghan road.