"Every night when I go to sleep, I wish that there will be a better tomorrow for my country, and when I wake up in the morning, I wish that today will be the best day for all the suffering people of my country." (R., Letter 3)
Over the past week I’ve received letters from my Afghan women contacts, relating particular incidents that reflect to me that the situation is getting worse for women.
I ask myself what holds them? I found an inspiring perspective in Letter 3. It seems that the rare possibility of university education presents an opportunity for some women to have some sort of control over their lives.
H wrote to me that on Mizan 3/7/1401 (25 Sep 2022), when she went to her university, she saw that a big signboard had been installed at the gate that said Takhar University in Pashto, replacing the Dari version. H wrote that the Taliban want to eliminate the Persian language and popularise the Pashto language because they themselves are Pashto speakers. They have been trying to remove and avoid using Dari language in their official communications intentionally, knowing that allegedly 70% of the country’s population is Dari speaking.
photo: aamaj news
A girl was seen taking a photo of the sign on her phone by a Taliban man. He handcuffed her, took away her mobile phone, and did not allow her to go to her class. She was taken away with him and no one knows where she is.
"It was very painful for me. It was because no one protested.
The situation is getting more terrible day by day. It has turned into a prison, especially for women."
M wrote that she met by chance the sister of her school girlfriend, whom she hadn’t seen for a while as the Taliban had closed High Schools. The sister burst into tears and told her that M's friend had been forced to marry a Talib and is now under his tortuous control. She doesn’t talk to her husband, he beats her because she doesn’t like him, and he poured boiling water over her hands, which are now in a very bad state.
"Dear Gali, I was very upset and sad when I heard this news that my friend is in a very bad situation.
And as sad as I am for my friend, I can't do anything. I can't save her from the savages. Thinking about her, my heart breaks.
Dear Gali, the situation here is so bad that people don't even have the capacity to live. It means that the right to make decisions on their own lives has fallen into the hands of others."
R wrote to me that at the end of last week, the Taliban spread a notice all around Kabul about wearing a proper Hijab, which includes a long black dress, scarf, and a special Arabic face mask (chador). Even though it's not a new rule, she wrote, they are taking this very seriously. There is a team (Amur Bil Mahrof Wa Nahi as Monker) always checking women and girls’ Hijab in public areas and they treat those who do not have a proper Hijab very badly.
Two days ago, the Taliban came to R’s university and checked all the girls’ classes. They were looking for girls who were not in a black Hijab and scarf. R wrote that they have threatened that if the Taliban’s rules are not implemented, they will close the university. They regularly come and check the classes. Fortunately, all the women students were wearing black head and body coverings, and when the Taliban saw them, they soon left again, which brought a smile to the students’ faces.
"Apart from the Taliban and all this pain and sorrow, my studies are going really well. Although this semester we are facing some problems as well, I am going to the university every day with great interest and enthusiasm, and trying to make my day better. I believe that we can keep ourselves happy through the small things we do, so I try to keep smiling and not feel hopeless."