Today, 15th August, is the date of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul one year ago in 2021. Before this day, provinces in Afghanistan had already started to fall to Taliban control.
The following writing is an extract from an essay I received from one of my contacts, a young woman from a province of Afghanistan.
"The situation of women in rural areas is much worse than in cities. I was born in one of the remote villages of Afghanistan, where there was no news of the most basic living facilities. There is no school, no clinic, no electricity, no road. Years ago, my family moved from the village to one of the northern cities of Afghanistan in search of work, and I had the opportunity to go to school with the encouragement and support of my family. My interest in reading made me read books and this habit of reading made me more sensitive to people, social events and especially the condition of women. The combination of my collections and observations of the general situation of people and women made this line of thought form in my mind, that we women should no longer be indifferent to the oppression that is going on and we should break the silence and raise our voices in different ways, to understand the origin of oppression and rise against it.
After many years, when I returned to the village, I could deeply understand the great suffering of Afghan women. In rural areas, women just give birth and work like beasts of burden without having any understanding of real life. They consider suffering as part of their destiny. And they consider rebellion against patriarchy as a sin. In rural areas, women breathe and live like a soulless body, only to fulfil the sexual needs of men and to take care of the children that belong to the husband. They are bought and sold like goods and have a precarious and lower position than humans in families.
Seeing and feeling the infinite suffering of women makes every beating and emotional heart filled with pity and filled with anger. Why women should be condemned to such a life of slavery, takes my breath away.
And now, after the re-establishment of the Taliban, Afghan women have once again been thrown into a cage. The Taliban, with their black and plagued thoughts, announced all kinds of medieval laws against women and took away the right to education and work from women as their first action.
During a year of the Taliban rule, Afghan women have gone back centuries. All their rights have been taken away from them and they have suffered from all kinds of mental illness and misfortune in the corners of their house. In this one year, not only schools have been closed for girls, but also hunger and famine are rampant in society. And yet, the Taliban have easily allocated huge sums of money to build religious schools in cities and villages so that they can increase their circle of influence.
The situation of women in the countryside is very dire and inhumane. I saw girls whose families sell them for money. Underage marriages and forced marriages, beatings by the husband and the husband's family, are considered normal. They are drowning in misery and suffering and they fight and fight for survival. These inhuman pressures lead many women and girls to self-immolation and suicide. In addition to the rule of fundamentalism, the culture of patriarchy and the culture of exemption from the law, family violence is one of the reasons for the increase in suicide of women in Afghanistan.
Despite the fact that women are crushed under the crushing pressure of tradition and fundamentalism and the ruling patriarchal culture and experience a painful life, they have never stopped fighting for a better future. In the midst of a tsunami of misery, they have never lost hope for salvation. In the eyes of each of them, they hope for a love for life, for freedom from captivity and the desire to build a better future. Women's hearts beat for education and study in the most remote parts of Afghanistan, which, like a remote island, is far from civilisation, culture and human life. They have found in experience, and instinctively, that education and awareness will free them from the mire of poverty and misery, so they go towards accumulating knowledge with open arms. But unfortunately for women in Afghanistan, this basic right has become an unattainable dream.
I spoke with the girls in the villages, without exception, all of them wanted to go to school and study and have realised the value of literacy and awareness. It is the duty of every knowledgeable Afghan man and woman to cry out, with the enthusiasm and love for Afghan girls and women, for education and a better life to the world. We should find practical ways to help Afghan women and girls without just wishing for girls' success. Achieving such a goal requires a firm commitment and huge and serious work for each and every one of us Afghan girls and women. We have no support except our arms. We understand that every effort and struggle in the world has not and will not remain unanswered.
Courage, perseverance and risk-taking are the things that we need to succeed in anything. And Afghan women and girls have proven in their lives that they have all three characteristics.
We believe that one day we will rise from the ruins of ashes and ruin, and by realising our dreams, we will build a world free from discrimination, oppression and inequality, where women will play a constructive role in building a prosperous and free society that equals and is side by side with men."
Photo 1: Women walk on a road in Arghandab district, Kandahar province. Photo: Javed Tanveer/AFP, 22 February 2021.
Photo 2: A family walks in a field in Kapisa province. Photo: Freshta Dunia/UNAMA, 10 September 2016