The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE Magazine. 2016 The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE magazine. 2016 - Page 36

they all took it off. In the garden, the moment the male gardener left, they all lifted their veils to enjoy the sun. Q: As a Westerner, I appreciate that the film makes clear the distinctions between the hijab and burqa and exposes the complicated historical and political journey of the burqa in Afghanistan. Tell me about filming in Kabul and the people you chose to interview. Trailer of Story of Burqa: Case of a Confused Afghan (Brishkay Ahmed, Canada, 2012, 70 mins). View the entire film at Culture Unplugged. Q: The following scene is animated and features a woman with a birdcage on her head, which, without giving too much away, we return to at the end of the film. Why did you use animation in the film? burqa isn’t Islamic, and secondly, that it’s a powerful political tool. When a woman wears a headscarf, she’s not limited. She can be a judge, a member of parliament, or a homemaker if she so chooses. A: The animation is important to me because I want young girls to be interested. I want to reach beyond the intellectual audience who knows documentary film or who understands the broader issues. This is an important subject and should reach a diverse audience; educated and uneducated, young and old. When her face and hands are covered and she’s wearing a double layer and can barely hear anything, she is rendered invisible. But I do believe that the power to change that kind of oppression is the responsibility of women. It’s up to us to make sure we shut that cage door and aren’t shoved back in. Q: The subtitle of your film is “Case of a Confused Afghan.” What questions did you hope the film would answer? A: Most importantly, I wanted to show that the A true understanding of the burqa and its history is critical. A great number of people in the world have accepted the fact that the hands and faces of their daughters, sisters, and mothers should be covered. In some cases women are not allowed to leave their homes. [Referring to the recent controversy in Canada] I have no problem with a woman taking her oath with her face covered, if it is indeed her personal choice. A: I chose to film in Kabul because it was accessible — in terms of going in with a camera crew — but also in terms of access to the intellectuals, the powerful men I wanted to interview. I couldn’t have women telling men the burqa is not Islamic. That wouldn’t work. I needed men. I wanted Afghan people to see men they respect. Men they see on TV. Men they discuss in the Jirgas (assembly of elders). Afghan men listen to men. They are influenced by Bureen Ruffin men. There is a saying in my country: You are a fool if you listen to a woman. Q: The film answered a lot of questions but also raised many, which is good. I think art should make us question what we believe. Is there a question the film didn’t answer for you? Would you do anything differently if you were to do it again? A: I was a bit of a coward because I didn’t try hard enough to talk to more women who wore the burqa. The men refused permission, but my instinct was to keep the camera rolling and ask the women directly. I wanted them to lift their veils and talk to me, but I was politically correct. I didn’t want to offend. I didn’t want to get them in trouble with their husbands. I wish I had been braver. Bureen Ruffin was born in New York City to Haitian parents. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School and teaches writing at Pace University. She is currently working on a memoir and occasionally tweets @lepetittoutou. When I stayed in a women’s shelter in Afghanistan, I never met a woman, there or in Kabul, generally, who said they liked the burqa. At any opportunity, 36 OF NOTE 37 OF NOTE