What will happen to Afghan women?
In today’s newsletter, Hurricane Ida and its aftermath; portraits of resilience on the U.S. Gulf Coast; the ‘bacteria hunter’ who discovered the cause of diseases ...and a new Pokémon craze.
This article is an adaptation of our weekly History newsletter that was originally sent out on August 30, 2021. Want this in your inbox? Sign up here.
By Debra Adams Simmons, Executive Editor, HISTORY
During the past 20 years, Afghan women have excelled as scholars, athletes, judges, artists, and political leaders. For young Afghan women, full participation in society is the only life they have ever known. This generation of career-focused women now are faced with the threat that everything they've worked for could be taken away under Taliban rule.
The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, which studies variables such as employment, education, financial access, safety and political representation, ranks Afghanistan the second worst place in the world to be a woman due to gender-based violence. (Pictured above, students taking English exams in December in Badakhshah province.)
In a 2020 National Geographic story about women's rising political power, one of the first Afghan female mayors, Zarifa Ghafari, told Rania Abouzeid about how she navigates daily threats as she governs in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak Province and long a Taliban stronghold. But earlier this month, Ghafari, who said she was waiting for the Taliban to come kill her, was among more than 100,000 people who have fled Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power and took control of the country.
Afghan women are being turned away from their jobs. Women judges, including some who have prosecuted members of ISIS and the Taliban for various crimes, are facing death threats. Organizations in the U.S., Europe, and other places are working feverishly to evacuate Afghan women. (Pictured above, Singer Aryana Saeed gets her hair tended to by her personal make-up artist as her fiance Hasib Sayed takes pictures for her social media accounts before recording an episode of “Afghan Star,” a talent quest TV show, in February. Saeed and Sayed fled Afghanistan on August 17. Below, friends in Daykundi visit a local dam on March 19, the day before Nowruz, a spring festival that marks the new year.)
At this point, there's no sugarcoating it. The Afghan women who have not been able to flee will, if the Taliban solidly control the nation, appear headed, at least for now, for sharply curtailed lives.
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TODAY IN A MINUTE
Ida leaves 1 million without power in Louisiana: Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm, with 145 mph winds and flooding, and knocked out power to much of the city of New Orleans. Flash flooding is expected as the storm promises more destruction on the Gulf Coast. Officials are beginning to assess the breadth of the damage. (Pictured above, New Orleans Police detective Alexander Reiter looks over debris from a building that collapsed during Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, on Monday.) See more photos of the storm and its aftermath.
Devastation, renewal, survival: Ida hit landfall on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, bringing winds that reached as high as 120 miles per hour. An estimated 1,200 people died in the storm, one of the worst in U.S. history. After Katrina, the city lost half its residents and saw its population altered. See photographs from the 10-year anniversary that tell a story of resilience.
Voting rights in the spotlight: The developers of Fortnite are adding an iconic moment in history to its popular video game, NPR reports. The experience teleports players back to a "reimagined" D.C. in 1963— to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On the 58th anniversary of that speech Saturday, thousands converged in Washington and other U.S. cities for the March for Voting Rights, Tucker C. Toole reports for Nat Geo.
Gotta trade ‘em all: Staying at home has sparked interest in buying and selling of coins, collectibles, and Pokémon cards, the Los Angeles Times reports. Demand is so high that some Walmart and Target stores have pulled cards after brawls and customer chaos. Meanwhile, parents are upset that they are unable to buy their kids the cards because the prices are too high.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Excavating Pompeii: In Pompeii, Italy, archaeologists patch a plaster mold of a female victim of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This picture appeared in a November 1961 article written by Amedeo Maiuri, who was responsible for excavating the city from 1924 to 1961. Catch this image and more in our popular Photo of the Day feature. Subscribers can read about finding 2,000-year-old bread from Pompeii—and learning how to bake it.
THE BIG TAKEAWAY
Making a big statement: As a kid, Claudia Kolker traveled yearly to Mexico City, where her mom grew up. And she fell in love with the Fuente de Tlaloc in a little-traveled corner of Chapultepec Park (pictured above). The fountain, featuring work by muralist Diego Rivera, has been restored. Rivera’s depiction of the god of water “surges with barely-contained energy,” Kolker writes.
OVERHEARD AT NAT GEO
Before the fall: A nightspot showing music videos. People who sought to make a modern Afghanistan happen. This week’s episode of our Overheard podcast created snapshots of a world that is ending with the rise of the Taliban and the departure of the United States. The U.S. was never able to get Afghans to buy into a central government that could benefit all, says Jason Motlagh and Kiana Hayeri, who reported for Nat Geo in Afghanistan. Senior executive editor Indira Lakshmanan, who first reported from Afghanistan in 2001 and who edited the stories on Afghanistan for the September issue of National Geographic, hosted this Overheard podcast. (Pictured above, Qari Mehrabuddin, a pro-government militia commander, sits with two of his five children in his home on the outskirts of Faizabad.)
Subscriber exclusive: As the Taliban returns, Afghanistan’s past threatens its future
IN A FEW WORDS
Founder of modern microbiology: The fight against tuberculosis reached a turning point in 1882, when 38-year-old doctor and microbiologist Robert Koch methodically used more than 200 microscopic preparations to identify the bacterium that causes TB. This “bacteria hunter” went on to discover the causes of anthrax and cholera, work that would land Koch a Nobel Prize, honoring him as one of the most effective warriors against infectious diseases. (Above, Koch peers into a microscope in his laboratory around 1900.)
Today's newsletter was curated and edited by Monica Williams and David Beard. Jen Tse selected the photographs. Have an idea or link to a story you think is right down our alley? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy trails!