Shabana: a 23-year-old woman from Afghanistan who is fighting stereotypes

Afghan women working is not as unusual as it used to be, since most of the people here in Europe respect human rights and equality. However, women working in a men’s salon is still a taboo for the majority of Afghans and it needs a lot of courage to do such a job. 

As it seems Shabana has that courage to get on with her job. She is 23 years old, an Afghan girl, born and raised in Iran. She was interested in hairdressing and makeup since childhood, and at the age of 15 she started working in a beauty parlour in Iran.

She says that “It’s way different working in Greece than in Iran, because the beauty salons here are for both men and women.” She had never worked for men in the past and in the beginning she was really hesitant. 

She has to deal with so many customers everyday. Unluckily, dealing with Afghan customers is still not an easy task. Some of them don’t let her cut their hair or shave them, while some others are staring at her as if she was an alien or even making fun of her. On top of that, her Afghan colleague doesn’t like her working there. Anytime a customer treats her well he gets mad and starts yelling at her on minor mistakes. 

She would have left this job long time ago, but fortunately she has a family that supports and encourages her when she feels like giving up. Shabana’s mother says that she wants her daughter to be bold and to learn how to stand on her own feet, not expecting anybody to help her. 

Shabana comes up against a problem, while her mother also faces sarcasm everyday in the camp when other women talk about her daughter’s occupation. She never gets disheartened, though, nor does she let Shabana to be. After all these problems Shabana is still so happy and satisfied of her occupation and she will carry it on.

*This article has been published in issue #12 of “Migratory Birds” newspaper, which was released as an annex with “Efimerida ton Syntakton” newspaper (Newspaper of the Editors) on March 2nd 2019.

Alishba Rahimi