Bamyan cafe gives Afghan women a safe space

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The Bamyan Women Cafe provides a space for females in a male-dominated society. (Arab News)
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The cafe is abuzz with girls and women from different walks of life socializing, studying, reading or eating. (Arab News)
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The first-of-its-kind cafe in the country was established four years ago with support from German NGO Help. (Arab News)
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The cafe is abuzz with girls and women from different walks of life socializing, studying, reading or eating. (Arab News)
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is abuzz with girls and women from different walks of life socializing, studying, reading or eating. (Arab News)
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The Bamyan Women Cafe provides a space for females in a male-dominated society. (Arab News)
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Located in the middle of Bamyan city, the cafe opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. (Arab News)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Bamyan cafe gives Afghan women a safe space

BAMYAN, Afghanistan: Nasrin Hassily is busy discussing a classroom project with her friend Nusrat, in a cafe that she visits almost daily after university to hang out with friends.

She is not alone. The Bamyan Women Cafe provides a space for females in a male-dominated society.

“Away from prying eyes and attention, I feel quite comfortable in the café,” 21-year-old Hassily, a student at Bamyan University, told Arab News.

Originally from Balkh province, she came to Bamyan to study “because this place is more secure than other places in Afghanistan.”

The first-of-its-kind cafe in the country was established four years ago with support from German NGO Help.

“We established this cafe for women to feel free, calm and relaxed away from their home,” Manager Aziza Mohmmadi told Arab News.

“In a normal restaurant, women always have to watch what they say and wear, and how they behave. But here they can be themselves,” she said.

“We allow girls to bring their male friends if they want, and discuss whatever they want over a cup of tea. Women need this kind of space if you want Afghan society to move ahead.”

Located in the middle of Bamyan city, the cafe opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. It is abuzz with girls and women from different walks of life socializing, studying, reading or eating.

Fariha Sadat, a 22-year-old handicraft entrepreneur, said it is an ideal place to discuss business with her partner and clients.

She moved to Bamyan a few months ago to expand her business, and feels that “the atmosphere here is safe for women.”

She told Arab News: “I’m very happy to be here. You don’t have to fear suicide attacks or bomb blasts like you do in Kabul.”

Sadat added: “The cafe gives you the kind of space you don’t get anywhere else, even at home. I come here for business dealings, discussing plans and arranging meetings.”

But “to come to this oasis of peace in Afghanistan, we have to pass through so many Taliban-dominated areas on our way from Kabul, and that makes us very insecure.”

Hassily said: “In the last 15 years, women have made great progress. But the atmosphere in Afghanistan is so uncertain and insecure that you never know when the country will be taken over by the Taliban. This is the biggest fear women have.”


Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

  • The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions

WASHINGTON: Almost 40 percent of new HIV cases in the US occur because people do not know they are infected, while a similar proportion know but are not in treatment, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on 2016 data and aims to bolster a strategy outlined by President Donald Trump to end the epidemic within 10 years.
The strategy has two main strands: far more widespread screening, and enabling the infected better access to treatment from the moment they test positive.
The study found that 38 percent of infections came from HIV-positive people who were unaware of their status, and 43 percent from people who knew they were infected but took no anti-retroviral drugs.
The remaining infections came from people who were receiving HIV treatment but were not yet “virally suppressed.”
The CDC blamed financial, social and other reasons for people not using medication, which these days typically comes in the form of a daily pill with minimal side effects.
The study said that the infection rate from the half million people in the United States who take medication and are virally suppressed — meaning they cannot pass on the disease to others — was zero.

The most at-risk group remains homosexual men, with almost three-quarters of new infections coming from men having sex with men, the report said.
Five percent of infections came from intravenous drug abuse among homosexual men, while 10 percent came from injecting drugs among the rest of the population.
Twelve percent of infections were among heterosexuals. Overall, the highest rate of transmission was among 13 to 24-year-olds.
The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions.
The goal is to reduce that number by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent in 10 years.
Questioned about the relatively small amount of money earmarked for the multi-billion dollar task of treating HIV carriers, CDC head Robert Redfield said he was “confident that the resources that are required to accomplish this mission are in the long term plan.”
The CDC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, wants doctors to make HIV screening a routine procedure.
“Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime,” said Eugene McCray, the head of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
“Those at higher risk should get tested at least annually,” he said.
“The key to controlling is helping those with HIV to control the virus,” said the CDC’s Jonathan Mermin, who focuses on preventing the spread of the HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
“Time spent working closely with patients who are having trouble paying for, picking up or taking their daily medications is time well spent“