Friday, July 6


A Globe & Mail editorial on "Buying Progress in Afghanistan" included the sentiments of Human Rights Watch: 

“Donors should make it clear that continued progress on women’s rights is linked to continued international support,” notes Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The decisions that donors make today will have huge implications for the lives of ordinary Afghans in the years ahead.”

Friday, June 8


More is not always better, and that is true for families. But many women in Afghanistan don't realize they could choose to prevent pregnancies. Aunohita Mojumdar writes about a 37-year-old woman with 10 children for the Women's News Network: "Like most Afghan women she has little say in the decision-making of the size of her family, or her own reproductive health. She has almost no concept that the number of children she has could be a matter of choice."

Mojumdar explains the cultural forces that influence large families, including increased earning potential and additional household help.

Of course, many, multiple pregnancies can pose health risks for women and their children, particularly when health care is not widely available. Decisions about whether a woman can use birth control, even for mothers who have health complications, are made at whim by husbands and imans.

"Custom and tradition are often confused with religious edicts in Afghanistan and it has been an uphill battle for health professionals to break down these deep-seated beliefs. In order to do so, they are using religion as the clinching argument," Mojumdar writes. "The Koran, talks, for example, about the need for a woman to breastfeed her child for two years, a natural method of contraception that would ensure a gap of at least two years between delivery and conception. Afghan health professionals are using this as the main argument in favour of birth spacing."

Women find new paths. Above, Fareba Miriam is the eldest in a family of 12 and became the first woman to enroll in a para-veterinarian training program that USAID is running in Afghanistan.

Photo courtesy of USAID.

Tuesday, June 5


The headline to Donald Pennington's opinion essay shrieks that Islam is dangerous. He argues, "Of all the world's religions, Islam has proven time and again to be one of the greatest threats to modern thought, freedom and life."

The essay is brief, pointless provocation. Ideas are not dangerous. Neither are religions. It's what adherents do with those ideas and religions.

Back in 2007, in a review of The Paradox of a Global USA, I made the same argument about globalization:

"Imagine walking into a room, encountering a group of people vigorously debating the pros and cons of 'conversation.' One group insists that conversation delivers wealth, prosperity and good times for all. The others shake their heads and bemoan the unpleasant content that conversations can hold or undue influence they might wield. "The debate would be silly and pointless, and so too is any discourse over globalization that aims to determine whether the phenomenon is good or bad."

Beliefs shared by more than 1 billion people, as reported by, are not dangerous. Intolerance is dangerous. Adherents' intense certitude that they're right, only they are right, is dangerous.

The Islamic drawing of an angel blowing a horn dates from 750 to 1258, the Abbasid Caliphate, and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 29


The old saying goes, Don't judge a book by its cover. But covers offer a first glimpse into a new community and its story. It's because of covers that readers decide whether or not to open a book, start reading, and spend some time with characters from a distant world.

The cover for the book that inspired this blog was released today, and I hope the story and my writing do the cover justice.

BBC News offers a graphic guide to headcoverings in the Muslim world.

Saturday, April 21


As a member of Sisters in Crime, I volunteered at the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library in DC April 21 (note this blog runs on Afghanistan time). It's a great reminder of how librarians are tireless in their work, dispensing advice with wisdom and grace. Librarians urge their visitors to explore, even though it always makes more work or them.

Check out the event on Facebook or Pinterest.
Please drop in between 10 a.m. and  4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st to have your writing questions (any type and all ages welcome) answered by Susan Froetschel as part of Sisters in Crime's "Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day." Susan also will be helping with other library tasks as part of this event.

Susan Froetschel at the library

Author Susan Froetschel Is Library Staffer for a Day
Takes Part in Sisters in Crime's "Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day" Event

Washington, DC—Susan Froetschel, mystery author and member of Sisters in Crime—an international organization founded to support the professional development of women writing crime fiction—will work as a volunteer staffer at Takoma Park Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. as part of a "Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day" celebration.  The event, produced by Sisters in Crime, is designed to thank librarians and booksellers for 25 years of support of the mystery genre. Sisters in Crime was established with an organizational meeting held in New York City in the spring of 1987.

"I am very excited about spending time at the beautiful Takoma Park Library," Froetschel said. "In helping readers find their way to the right book at the right time, librarians solve mysteries every day."

Friday, April 20


"American sisters do outnumber the priests, and it’s the women who have the troops, too – at schools and hospitals the bishops couldn’t close if they wanted to," reports Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post. "The nuns no longer only empty the bed pans, you see, but now also own the institutions where they work. And you have to wonder whether that’s the real problem."

Thursday, April 19


"A Vatican investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing 80 percent of Catholic sisters and nuns in the United States, found serious theological errors in statements by members, widespread dissent on the church’s teaching on sexuality and “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” a church report released Wednesday stated." So reports Elizabeth Tenety for the Washington Post.
The brave words of Catholic sisters are guided by reason and their consciences. Faith is unsustainable if it cannot endure such independent and sincere questions and tests.

The sisters are far more courageous and determined than women such as myself. Disgusted by child-abuse scandals of the early 1990s and the church's irrational arguments and response - blaming the media and the messenger - I abandoned the Catholic Church. If they were so irrational on one point, how could they not be wrong on so many others? I did not need such men to supervise my spirituality. No women or child does.

 "Like everything else in the United States, religion must compete under the free-market system. In this country, we have the privilege of free thought and speech, and we can decide which 'moral' rules imposed by religious leaders, mere mortals, should be kept and which are meant to be broken," I wrote for the Hartford Courant, March 24, 2002, in an essay titled "The Church Must Change." Not many traces of that 2002 opinion essay remain online.

I admire the nuns and would consider attending a church run by nuns.

Image courtesy of From Eternity to Here.