“Kabul’s Sex Workers Get Organized”

According to the article in the Wall Street Journal under the above headline, the paper was given “rare access” to how this network of prostitutes operates. (11/10/12.)

It is not, however, the details that concern us here – but rather the overarching principle. What’s remarkable is that in this most conservative, most regressive, most feudal of societies – certainly so far as women are concerned – the apparently utterly powerless have found a way to exercise at least some power. They organized. They banded together only recently, and their network obviously is informal rather than formal. But their numbers are impressive, and they have clearly found they have more clout standing together than they could possibly have standing alone.

It’s the simplest possible principle – based on the power of numbers. But, though we have seen it work over and over again throughout human history, it somehow remains elusive. It is, apparently, difficult first for people first to see what they might achieve if they organize, and second for people to have the guts actually to do it.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? Remember how quickly it fell apart for lack of will? All the more impressive then that on the streets of Kabul, of all places, sex workers have got it together to establish a self-help network they claim is some 10,000 members strong (6,000 female; 4,000 male). There’s a lesson in this, or, better, a reminder, of what is to be done when the situation seems, if only on the surface, to be hopeless.

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