In a dark tea room amid the dusty Kandahar, 23-year-old Latif stares with mouth agape.
Japan Today, T.T.
A young boy smiles and giggles nervously as he stares at a pair of nude breasts; he has never seen anything like this as far as he can remember.
Satellite receivers arrived to the conservative town Kandahar in northern Afghanistan with the allied troops and, along with them, documentary films from Lithuania, Polish educational program and Catalan soap operas. All this is utterly new to the residents, as is pornography.
After the fall of the Taliban regime, satellite dishes have begun to spring from roof tops, adorning private homes, restaurants, coffee shops… everyone wants a peek into the unknown and the unknown galores. One hundred and seventy programs broadcast from the entire world, including four that only air pornography!
The orthodox Taliban, who until recently commanded women to stay at home or beat them because the genteel gender was too noisy while walking, may have disappeared from the stage, but the absence of extreme extremism does not mean that the Kandahar “Pashtuns” have abandoned their strict religious law that regulates interaction between the genders. The first encounters with the breath of fresh air represented nothing but a culture shock to the population of Afghanistan.
From entering puberty to old age, almost all women still wear burqas, which cover them from head to toe. Most men have never seen a naked woman outside the circle of their families.
It is therefore no surprise that the first encounters with satellite channels that offer 100% hardcore porn are the equivalent to the close encounters of the third kind. Men from Kandahar, cut off from the outside world for decades, accustomed to conflicts and uncompromising Taliban laws, have never seen anything like this, even though it is in fact exceptionally soft porn by western standards, usually aired between hotline ads.
A strange discomfort can be felt everywhere:
This is not good for our society, says a 26-year-old man; people should not watch things like that, it is not right.
There is, however, no shortage of curious glances. A group of Taliban wearing overgrown beards are sitting in a bar with their eyes riveted to the screen. A western woman enters the room and one of them frantically changes the channel.
Abdul Wasi, the owner of one of the many new satellite equipment stores, says that business is doing exceptionally well.
I sell digital receivers and satellite dishes for about 350 dollars and I import the equipment from Pakistan. I started the business a month ago and by now I have sold almost four hundred receivers. My store is always crowded, everyone wants to watch satellite television, says Wasi