Afghan girls deprived of education: 'Our country has become a prison'


Published: 2022-03-25 17:38

Last Updated: 2024-05-27 13:28

Source: Yahoo News
Source: Yahoo News

“Afghanistan has become our prison,” says Mallahat, Adiba and Narges, who were happy to return to their classes and meet their schoolmates, before the Taliban decided after hours to close the schools again.

In an unexpected decision, the Taliban on Wednesday ordered the closure of colleges and high schools, and the return of thousands of girls to their homes, a few hours after the reopening of institutions, with a long-standing announcement by the Ministry of Education.

"Afghanistan has become our prison," said 11-year-old Malahat Haidari, the day after she hurriedly left the Al-Fath Girls School in Kabul.

"I cried a lot," she added, wiping away her tears during an interview with AFP at her family's home in an upscale area of the capital.

"We are treated as criminals only because we are girls. That is why they kicked us out of the school," she said.

The Taliban's decision reinforced the fears of observers who fear that the country's new leaders will again ban girls' education, as they did during their first term, between 1996 and 2001.

The girls' return to secondary school followed only boys and girls returning to primary school, which were allowed to resume classes, two months after Islamist militants seized Kabul last August.

The government has not provided any clear explanation for the change in its approach to girls in secondary education.

However, leaked information from a secret meeting of senior Taliban leaders in their southern stronghold in Kandahar on Tuesday evening, stated that the reasons ranged from the need for a uniform, to the outright rejection of girls' need for education.

The ministry reiterates that schools will open, but only when new directives are specified.

"Until yesterday, I didn't think alone (that the Taliban) had changed, but everyone who is asked," said Adiba, 13, Malahat's sister.

"When they sent everyone home, we realized that the Taliban is still the same as it was 25 years ago," Malahat said.

"We miss our freedom. We miss our classmates and teachers," Adiba added.

The two sisters are from a wealthy family and their parents are educated, and they have always been encouraged to study.

- Fear of educated women -

Narges Jafri, 14, who lives in another part of the city and whose family belongs to the "Hazara" Shiite minority, considers educated women make the Taliban feel threatened.

"They think that if we study, we will gain knowledge and fight them," she told AFP. "They are afraid of it," she added. She was crying, sitting at a table in front of her books in the family home.

She emphasized that it was unfair to see boys her age going to school while she was being forced to stay at home. "It's really difficult," she said.

The student at Maarafat Secondary School in Kabul recalls stories her mother, Hamida, told her about the previous Taliban rule.

"Previously, I had a strange feeling when she was telling us how she wore the burqa or the chador, and how a woman was not allowed to go out without being accompanied by a man," she said.

"All this news crosses my mind right now," the teen added.

During the seven months of rule since last summer, the Taliban imposed a set of restrictions on women, excluding them from many government jobs, controlling their dress and preventing them from leaving their cities on their own.

The Islamists arrested many activists who demonstrated for women's rights.

Hamida was 10 when she was forced to drop out of school and is currently worried about her daughter's future. "Her dreams will be shattered," she said wistfully.