News & Analysis
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Consequence Magazine addresses the Culture of War: Conversation on May 10th

CONSEQUENCE Literary Magazine

Join CONSEQUENCE Magazine on Friday to celebrate the launch of a new issue!

Friday May 10, 2013, at 7 pm
Old South Church
645 Boylston Street, corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets
Copley Square, Boston

A Conversation and Reception
John A. Parrish, M.D. (Autopsy of War)
Laura Harrington (Alice Bliss)

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About War

When writers address the subject of war, they face tough choices about what material to include and how to give voice to the unspeakable. The writer’s job, then, is to examine what drives nations into war, how civilians as well as soldiers respond to war, and the lasting impacts on individuals and society that are ignored or under-reported. Laura Harrington, author of Alice Bliss, and John A. Parrish, M.D. author of Autopsy of War, will read excerpts from their work and discuss writing about war from their respective points of view, touching on how personal experience and memory have affected their work and their lives.

Issue 5 of CONSEQUENCE features fiction by David Abrams, Homero Aridjis, Andrew Barlow, Anne Korkeakivi, and Margaret Luongo; poetry by Peter Balakian, Martha Collins, Jill McDonough, Ed Ochester, Joyce Peseroff, and Lee Sharkey; non-fiction by Stephen Dau, Lee Hancock, Judith Hertog, Joan Stack Kovach, and Elizabeth Weber; translations by Erica Mena, Nguyen Ba Chung, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Bruce Weigl; and art by Laylah Ali.

About CONSEQUENCE
CONSEQUENCE Magazine is an international literary journal addressing the culture and consequences of war. They publish annually: short fiction, poetry, non-fiction, interviews, visual art and reviews. CONSEQUENCE is an independent, non-profit magazine, and a 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax-deductible. Submit, subscribe and donate to the magazine here.

http://www.consequencemagazine.org
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Screening and Presentation at West Virginia State University – April 25th

West Virginia’s Department of Communications & Media Studies will host a screening of The Fruit of Our Labor films, including a presentation by CSFilm director Michael Sheridan by Skype.  Q&A to follow.West Virginia State University

Thursday, April 25th 2013 at 7pm
West Virginia State University
Davis Fine Arts Theater
Washington Ave and Presidents Drive
Dunbar, West Virginia
The Fruit of Our Labor: Afghan Perspectives in Film is a collection of documentary shorts made by Afghan filmmakers during an intensive five week training by Community Supported Film.  The films bring to life Afghans’ daily efforts to address their challenging social and economic conditions, offering a personal and first-hand Afghan point of view rarely seen or heard in the US – even after 10 years of intense media coverage.

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Lifting the veil on Afghanistan’s female addicts

An Afghan woman holds up opium as she attends a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
An Afghan doctor explains the use of condoms to a group of women addicts at a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
A drug addict covers her son as she prepares to leave the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
A drug addict holds her child as she visits the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
A woman clad in burqa walks out of the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
Drug addicts visit the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
A drug addict waits for her turn to see doctors at the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood
A woman addict sits cross-legged during a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre, an organisation funded by the United Nations providing harm reduction and HIV-AIDS awareness, in Kabul January 29, 2012. With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades. Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan. Picture taken January 29, 2012. REUTERS-Ahmad Masood

Credit: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

By Amie Ferris-Rotman

KABUL | Sun Apr 1, 2012 10:31am EDT

(Reuters) – Anita lifted the sky-blue burqa from her face, revealing glazed eyes and cracked lips from years of smoking opium, and touched her saggy belly, still round from giving birth to her seventh child a month ago.

“I can’t give breast milk to my baby,” said the 32-year-old Anita, who like other women interviewed for this story, declined to give her full name. “I’m scared he’ll get addicted

She was huddled with other women at the U.N.-funded Nejat drug rehabilitation center in the old quarter of Kabul, having sneaked out of her home to avoid being stopped by her husband from going outside alone.

With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades.

Afghanistan is the source for more than 90 percent of the world’s opium, which is used to make heroin, and more of it is being grown than ever before.

While it is not uncommon to see men shooting up along the banks of the dried up Kabul riverbed in broad daylight, women in the ultra-conservative culture of Muslim Afghanistan are expected to stay out of public view for the most part. They often have to seek permission from a male relative or husband to leave their home, and when they do they are encased in the head-to-toe burqa.

“I am not allowed to leave home for medical checks. What can I do? I am a woman,” Anita said matter of factly.

Like many of Afghanistan’s female drug users, Anita picked up the habit from her husband.

Like other women interviewed for this story, Anita asked that only her first name be used. Shrouded in stigma, female drug users is a topic that is almost never mentioned in Afghanistan.

They agreed to tell their stories to a reporter only through an intermediary they trusted.

CONSUMPTION ON RISE

Opium poppy cultivation in a country that has been growing the plant for a thousand years increased 7 percent in 2011 from the year before, due to a spike in prices and worsening security, according to a survey sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In 2011, the farm-gate value of opium production more than doubled from 2010 to $1.4 billion and now accounts for 15 percent of the Afghan economy, the UNODC says.

Opiate consumption in Afghanistan, where it has long been a medication but in recent years has been used increasingly for recreation, is also on a sharp rise. The UNODC says Afghanistan has around one million heroin and opium addicts out of a population of 30 million, making it the world’s top user per capita.

No estimates are available on how many women are addicted to opium or heroin. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana.

“There has been a definite increase amongst women drug users over the last decade,” said Arman Raoufi, director of harm reduction for women at Nejat.

Smoking opium costs around 200 Afghanis a day ($4), a very expensive habit in a country where a third live beneath the poverty line. Women send their children to collect scrap and bottles to help pay for their habit, or resort to begging, extending a hand to cars from beneath their burqa on busy streets when their husbands have left home.

“My husband took on a second wife and began to ignore me, so I started to smoke his powder (opium) and now must beg,” said Fauzia, 30, a petite mother of five sitting in the corner of Nejat, her embroidered floral slippers poking out from under her baggy trousers. She said she was terrified that her husband and male relatives might discover she was seeking treatment on her own at the center.

Treatment options are sorely limited. A pilot project launched two years ago by Medecins du Monde, which gives methadone to drug addicts, is the only one in the country.

The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) wants to roll it out across the country, but the Ministry of Counter-narcotics has objected, saying it would introduce yet another narcotic onto the black market.

IRANIAN CONNECTION

With her five-year-old son tugging on her unwashed burqa, 30-year-old Najia said she has smoked opium for nine years.

“It is so hard for me. I have kids. I’m poor. I’m not able to work — my husband won’t allow me,” said the raven-haired mother of four.

Najia said she picked up the habit from her husband after he returned from his job as a laborer in neighboring Iran.

Raoufi at the Nejat center says the return of migrant workers and refugees, who fled to Iran andPakistan during the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, and the bloody civil war and Taliban rule that followed, is the main reason behind the rise in female drug addicts.

Increased street prostitution since the fall of the Taliban, which policed the trade more rigorously than the government does today, has also contributed, he said.

Iran has the second highest heroin abuse rate in the world after Afghanistan, according to UNODC. Afghan addicts among the 1 million refugees in Iran have become such an issue Tehran has started to expel them.

“Our relatively open borders are not doing us any favors,” said Feda Mohammad Paikan, who heads the NACP working under the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. “Most addicts get hooked in Iran, and many of these men have wives.”

PRISONERS OF HABIT

Afghanistan’s female narcotics problem is now filling the country’s largest women’s prison, Badam Bagh or “Almond Orchard”, on the outskirts of Kabul.

Of its 164 inmates, 64 are opium and heroin users, double what it was when the clinic started in 2008, said clinic doctor, Hanifa Amiri.

“There are simply more drugs out there available to women now,” she said, waving a medical-gloved hand over a prison courtyard, where burqa-clad female relatives were bringing gifts of pomegranates and flat naan bread for the inmates.

With cropped black hair, a leather jacket and a henna tattoo of a scorpion on her hand, inmate Madina looks nothing like an ordinary Afghan woman.

One of seven injecting heroin users in Badam Bagh, she lives with her teenage son and daughter in prison, where she has been for seven years since she killed her husband.

She said she murdered him after he forbade her from prostituting herself to support her habit, said Madina, the only inmate at the prison who agreed to speak to Reuters.

“I would love to give it all up, but how am I meant to, as a woman?” the 37-year-old mother of two said as she scratched at the scabs on her arm, dark red from recent use.

She supports her habit by selling handmade sexual aid tools – stuffing compacted wool into condoms — to other inmates, several of whom have developed lesbian relationships.

HIV and AIDS is becoming a more serious issue, largely spurred by injecting drug use, and could reach the general population if not tackled properly.

A new strategy being rolled out by the health ministry to target more women in counseling and HIV testing is being met by opposition from the strong conservative forces in Afghan society.

“HIV and drug use are viewed as evil in Muslim society, and even more so for women,” said specialist Mohammad Hahn Heddait, who works at the infectious diseases hospital under the ministry of health.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Michael Georgy and Bill Tarrant)

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Community Supported Film to Present at “Art and Technology in the Middle East” Conference at Columbia University

ta'alimOn April 18th Michael Sheridan will be one of several panelists presenting at Intersections of the Global and Local in Education in the Middle East – the 2013 TA’ALIM conference on the role of art, media and technology  in education in Middle Eastern countries, held at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

Thursday, April 18th 2013
9am-3:15pm
Grade Dodge Hall 179,
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th St New York, NY 10027

Teacher   College at Columbia University

 

 

 

During the discussion the panelists will focus on how various media can help to aid the issues facing the Middle East. The day will consist of a video-conference between graduate students in the U.S., students at the American University in Cairo, and students at Notre Dame University in Lebanon. All students are in various stages of conducting or planning research on education in the region and will have a forum to share their successes and challenges. There will then be a panel of professionals and screenings of short films.

Panel: Art, Media and Technology in Education

12:45-2:15pm

Nada Elattar, Sesame Workshop
Kristyn Mohr, Global Nomads Group
Jennifer Lauren, T21
Abdullah Schleifer, Middle East Institute
Michael Sheridan, Community Supported Film
Moderator: Erin Twohig, Doctoral Candidate in French &
Roman Philology, Columbia University

Learn more about the event and register.

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Peacekeepers for Afghanistan

What could have been happening in Afghanistan since 2002:
 
MALI: The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution to approve the creation of a 12,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali starting July 1, which would be able to request the support of French troops if needed to combat Islamist extremist threats.
Afghans would need to push for a UN peacekeeping mission for long term stability and independence from US and other dominant powers. The Afghan government is against it as they see it as a threat to their control.  But Afghan and international civilians, civil society orgs could be pushing for it.
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