By Tara Kurup
Image via The New York Times
“I raise up my voice- not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” This was said by activist Malala Yousafzai in her book, “I am Malala.” Malala grew up in Mingora, Pakistan. She was able to get a proper education until the world turned upside down; when the Taliban took over her village.
The Taliban is a military organization that has discriminatory beliefs such as women should not have rights in order to create an Islamic government. Malala and her father fought hard for women to get education rights in Pakistan. She was shot in the head by the Taliban, but this did not stop her, for years later we would see her being awarded a Nobel Peace prize and speaking in front of the UN. Unfortunately, women in Afghanistan are going through a very similar situation.
Recently, the Taliban have taken over the country of Afghanistan after American troops were taken out of the country. They have captured major cities like the capital, Kabul. Thousands of citizens have been fleeing the country by hanging onto airplanes. On August 26th, a suicide bombing took place at the International Airport in Kabul, killing dozes and preventing many from evacuating.
This is not all that is happening. Many women have suffered horribly under Taliban rule. Previous Taliban rule prohibited women from getting an education or job after the age of twelve. According to The New York Times, in 2000 a teacher named Fatima opened a secret school for girls when education was banned. The school was very cramped with no desks but reached a total of 250 students. Fatima was positive the Taliban knew about her secret school, but she defied their laws and continued.
USA Today says the Taliban forced women to wear head scarfs and coverings. They could not leave the house without a male. They would force marriages on any 15 to 45-year-old woman with a Taliban member. If they disobeyed any of these absurd laws, they would get publicly whipped.
The Taliban is claiming they will respect women and treat them equally, but so far their words are not reflected in their actions. The Taliban are forcing women to wear burqas, a garment that covers the whole body. According to a Taliban spokesman, “The face of a woman is a source of corruption.” Many feel that the burqa is taking away their identities. According to The Guardian, an Afghan woman said, “If I wear the burqa, it means that I have accepted the Taliban’s government. I have given them the right to control me. I’m afraid of losing the accomplishments I fought for so hard.” In a CNN video, Clarissa Ward shows a store with posters of women painted over because their faces were exposed. After the Taliban announced that women “would be happy to live under the sharia law,” they killed a woman on the streets for not wearing a burqa.
Image via The Times of Israel
Women protesting for their daughters' education while wearing burqas
The most awful part of this capture? The Afghan women feel their voices are going to be silenced again. They have worked for decades to obtain freedom. In 2001, Afghan women had achieved basic human rights. In 2004, they were granted equal rights and in 2009, legislation protected women from underage marriage and violence. They were finally able to talk freely. Knowing the Taliban’s history when it comes to women’s rights, women feel as if all of this progress is going to vanish right in front of them. As one Afghan woman says in a CNN video, “I think we will be left here in this hell under the dark shadow of this tyranny.”
As we sit around dreading the start of the school year, there are girls in Afghanistan, worried their education is going to be taken away. “We will stand for our rights to the death,” said Basira, a protest organizer. It may seem like there is no hope, but there is a way we can help them. We can use our privilege and spread awareness about what is happening.
Women for Women International is an organization that supports women in times of war. They are now collecting donations to help the women in Afghanistan and have their own safety team in Afghanistan. GeorgeTown Institute for Women, Peace and Security is calling for the U.S. to send flights for women and activists in Afghanistan. We can donate to these organizations and help these women.
We can learn more about how the U.S. can get involved and follow politicians that want to make change. We can watch interviews with Afghan women to understand their struggles more clearly. “I want my daughters to be respected as human beings; that’s the country I’m fighting for,” says Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi. Every human deserves rights, and should never be silenced by a corrupt government.
Written by writer Tara Kurup