When Fatema Saeedi is in the pool, she cannot hear the crowded, chaotic noise of the city around her. She does not think about suicide bombings or Taliban attacks. She concentrates on her breathing as she moves through the water. One hand in front of the other. Exhale. For Ms. Saeedi, 26, the swimming pool is a refuge. The clean water, the walls and the women around her — all sealed off from the male patrons nearby — are a welcome respite from Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Though the city has become markedly more politically progressive in the nearly two decades it has been governed by a Western-backed democracy, Kabul is still steeped in a socially conservative Afghan culture that often relegates women to hidden or subjugated roles. For Women in Kabul, ‘It Is Just Me and the Water’ It's high priced because women wear makeup in the pool and they have to cover the cost of changing the water. That's ridiculous.