Faces of defiance: the women fearlessly standing up to the Taliban in Afghanistan
The atmosphere is buzzing. Young men, women and children in their best, brightly coloured outfits clap and cheer, their faces swiped by pink and blue strobe lights. Dry ice rises from the stage, where the presenter in a claret jacket and bow tie struts and introduces the acts in between plugging fizzy drinks.
Afghanistan’s equivalent of Pop Idol is the country’s most popular programme, drawing 12m viewers – close to half the population. For the first time, a woman is in the final – an 18-year-old schoolgirl in a long brocade dress is up against a rapping barber in a New York Yankees baseball cap, leather jacket and sunglasses.
It’s a scene that would have been impossible 16 years ago – before the American-led invasion toppled…