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  • LYNSEY: Pummeled with tank fire mortar rounds.

  • Riots for bread.

  • Women who tried to commit suicide

  • by setting themselves on fire.

  • Many, many women were dying in child birth.

  • I was kidnapped by Gaddafi's troops.

  • There was no place to hide.

  • (applause)

  • So I was 26 the first time I went to Afghanistan.

  • And I had been living in India at the time.

  • And I had a roommate who went to Afghanistan

  • under the Taliban and he came back

  • and he said, "You know, you are a woman.

  • You should go to Afghanistan

  • and photograph women living under the Taliban,

  • because no one's doing it."

  • And he didn't tell me

  • that photography was illegal at the time,

  • that you couldn't photograph any living thing.

  • And that there was no American Embassy,

  • and that the only governing body was the Taliban,

  • which was ruled by Sharia law.

  • But I was 26 and I didn't care, and so, I went.

  • And I took some pictures of women.

  • I kept my cameras in my bag,

  • and I ran around to people's homes.

  • And I went to the hospitals--

  • this was a women's hospital in 2000.

  • There was no medicine, very few doctors.

  • This was a woman in labor.

  • This is a very typical scene on the streets of Kabul.

  • This was the capital at the time.

  • There were almost no cars.

  • Women beggars were really the only women

  • you would ever see on the street.

  • Any form of entertainment was illegal.

  • There was no music, no television,

  • and no cell phone.

  • So, when I would go to Afghanistan at the time,

  • I would literally fall off the face of the planet.

  • I would have no idea what was happening

  • outside of Afghanistan.

  • This scene happened. I was out at a refugee camp

  • because there was a drought in Herat,

  • which was western Afghanistan.

  • And I was with my driver and he said,

  • "Madam, I have to go early,

  • because my brother is getting married."

  • And I said, "Great.

  • Let's go to your brother's wedding."

  • So, he took me in.

  • I brought one camera, one lens and I hung out.

  • And I had been on a street, like the picture

  • you had just seen.

  • And we descended down these stairs

  • and the Titanic was blasting.

  • And men and women were dancing together.

  • And this was all under the Taliban in secret.

  • About 9 years later, National Geographic

  • assigned me to photograph women in Afghanistan.

  • And I spent about 2 years photographing.

  • And the changes that had been made

  • were astonishing to me.

  • I had been working pretty much consistently

  • in Afghanistan since 2000, so I went almost every year.

  • And my last trip was about 5 months ago.

  • This is a wedding.

  • The man on the right is the father of the groom

  • and he is a filmmaker in Afghanistan.

  • This is a typical scene of a midwife.

  • This is in Badakhshan Province.

  • And that province has very few roads.

  • So, many, many women die in childbirth in Afghanistan,

  • mostly because of the lack of access to hospitals

  • and doctors.

  • So, what you see here is a woman,

  • a midwife from Merlin, and she would go out

  • into very remote villages

  • and they would make an announcement at the mosque.

  • And pregnant women and women with young children

  • would come and meet with her.

  • And after spending about two weeks

  • in Badakhshan Province, I was driving back to Fayzabad,

  • which is the capital.

  • And I notice these two women on the side of the mountain.

  • And I said, "That's strange,

  • there's no man with those women."

  • And anyone who's worked extensively in Afghanistan

  • knows that there was always a man with the women.

  • So we stop the car and Dr. Zieba,

  • who was my translator and an amazing Afghan woman,

  • she jumped out and we ran up the mountain

  • and she said, "What's going on?"

  • And the woman on the right was in labor,

  • and her water had just broken.

  • And they had rented a car and her husband's first wife

  • had died in childbirth.

  • And he was so determined to not have a second wife die

  • in childbirth that he rented this car,

  • and they were driving from their village to Fayzabad,

  • the capital, and their car broke down.

  • And so I said, "Get in my car

  • and I'll take you to the hospital."

  • And they said, "We can't.

  • We need the permission of her husband."

  • And so I said, "Dr. Zieba, go find the husband."

  • And fortunately there was a one road

  • that led throughout the whole province.

  • So, she took our car and she found

  • the husband. They all came in my car,

  • and she delivered.

  • Everyone always asks me if I took--

  • if I have pictures of her delivering.

  • And I stopped photographing at the point

  • that I left them, that I put them in my car,

  • because I changed the story as a journalist

  • and I didn't feel like it was ethical

  • to keep photographing.

  • Many women in Afghanistan end up in prison

  • simply for asking for a divorce, for doing things

  • that in the west, we would see

  • as not justifiable to end up in prison.

  • This is Mida Hall. She was married

  • at a very young age to a man who was decades

  • older than her.

  • He was handicapped, so every day her duties

  • as a wife were to bathe him and to take care of him

  • and feed him.

  • When she was 21, she asked for a divorce

  • and she was thrown in prison by his brothers.

  • This is a young woman.

  • Women in Afghanistan who are unhappy

  • or who are ashamed, they don't take a gun

  • and try and commit suicide the way that we would try to

  • or that's more typical in the west.

  • They set themselves on fire.

  • And many of those women don't die.

  • So, I did a series for The New York Times

  • on women who tried to commit suicide

  • by setting themselves on fire.

  • This young woman had been accused

  • by her neighbors of stealing. And she was so ashamed

  • that she tried to kill herself.

  • And she died a few days after that picture.

  • With the Americans in Afghanistan,

  • one thing they tried to do was train up

  • a police force of women.

  • And this is at a shooting range outside of Kabul.

  • Education has really picked up in Kabul,

  • that's something when I first I used to go,

  • there were secret girl schools in people's homes,

  • hidden from the Taliban.

  • And now you see women graduating.

  • This is a women's boxing team.

  • This is a woman in parliament.

  • They're women in parliament, sorry.

  • There are soap operas with women and women actresses.

  • This is a soap opera set, in Kabul.

  • This is Trina. She is an actress.

  • She did soap operas and she was also in some movies.

  • So, in 2009 and 2010, I accompanied the Marines'

  • female engagement teams, throughout Helmand Province.

  • This was a program, started by the Marines,

  • to have American women engage Afghan women,

  • because many of the Marines--

  • all the Marines operating in Helmand Province were men.

  • And there was a whole 50% of the society,

  • they couldn't-- they couldn't engage.

  • And they couldn't go into people's homes.

  • So, they brought women in. And they had them

  • talk to Afghan women, look at them

  • for basic medical treatment.

  • It was fascinating for me,

  • because I had been embedding with the military

  • for many, many years, but I was always the only woman.

  • So, it was the first time