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– The team at Les Glorieuses
September 27, 2021
Reading time : 4 minutes
Afghan women and girls: wronged by the Taliban, abandoned by the world
By Sahar Fetrat
As I write this piece, the Taliban have again banned girls as young as 12 from going to school in Afghanistan.
I think of myself at the age of 12; secondary school was a time of my life that I wouldn’t change for anything. I was getting to know myself better – curious about the shape of my slowly changing body, about the world and the future. I started understanding my interests better, started making good friends. I was full of passion; I was loud and constantly trying to make a statement.
I think of myself as a teenager: the mood swings, the changing tone of my voice, but also how passionate I was about everything. My school was somewhere I was allowed to go to figure out my curiosity. It wasn’t the best, but it was my
Now I am in my mid-twenties. I am educated, soon to graduate with a second master’s degree in London. I haven’t been banned from getting an education. But it’s been 43 days since I lost my country. In a matter of weeks, my homeland and all its memories have receded into nostalgia, something I will never be able to retouch or relive.
Today, millions of schoolgirls in Afghanistan are banned from school; Afghan women are prevented from working, travelling, and living freely. There is a pain in writing this as I resist accepting a new reality.
Like every Afghan, I have wept days and nights. I have felt confused; I have been lost. I am not a girl who has been banned from getting an education. My heart breaks for the girls in Afghanistan who haven’t yet lived long, but who will pay a cost that will break them for a lifetime.
I say all this to come to this point: Afghan girls have been wronged by the Taliban and abandoned by the world.
Afghan girls and women are continuously being wronged. We are still used as throwaway
references in a news headline, as an academic research interest, exotic fodder for the western gaze.
The US and its allies should be ashamed to use the rhetoric of salvation. Both the Taliban and the US, individually and parallel to one another, have abused women’s rights. The former in the name of Islam and the latter in the name of freedom and democracy.
Heloísa Marques for Impact x Les Glorieuses
In fact, looking at how the Taliban use women in their exploitative campaigns to speak in their favour shows they have learned an important lesson from the US: using and abusing women’s rights to gain more legitimacy. This is a war on the bodies of Afghan women, as well as a war in the name of Afghan women.
Looking at the bravery of the women protesting against the Taliban it’s clear that if there has ever been any saviour, it’s Afghan women themselves. They are saving themselves from control, invasion, and fundamentalism by protesting.
I can’t speak for all women in Afghanistan, but for those that I know, I can say that Afghan women are unstoppable – they have been like that for years. I know women who turned
their basements into schools to educate girls and boys under the previous Taliban regime. I know women who have been tortured for their attempts to educate another generation. I know women who have been beaten with lashes because they refused to wear a burqa.
Today, the videos I receive from Kabul show me the incredible bravery of women in their twenties whose experience with protesting starts and ends with the Taliban opening fire on them.
Over the past two months, Afghan women have had to educate those who are more privileged than us. We still do; every Afghan you see is somehow trying to raise awareness. All people need to do is to listen.
We need the world to listen to us as we tell our stories. We want the world to stand in solidarity with Afghan women; we need the world to celebrate Afghan women’s bravery and their fight for freedom.
We keep saying all this in the hope of evoking some humanity. We raise our voices to remind the world to care. It is not begging for attention; in fact it is a call to look within.
It is emotional labour to remind the world that an affliction affecting one of us could end up affecting everyone. It takes so much energy to constantly remind people that their countries are responsible for the mess in Afghanistan. People of Western nations must hold their governments accountable.
It’s easy to think we are not a part of the problem and therefore not to care. But it is both humane and honourable to do so.
– Sahar Fetrat is feminist living in London studying at King’s College London.
– Heloísa Marques is a visual artist whose principal mediums are embroidery and collage.
This issue of IMPACT was prepared by Heloísa Marques, Megan Clement, Rebecca Amsellem and Steph Williamson from the team at Les Glorieuses.
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