Two years of education denied: Afghanistan girls forced into seminaries and marriages

KABUL (Khaama Press): It has been two years since the de facto administration took control of Afghanistan, and various segments of society continue grappling with this political shift’s impact. However, what the young female students endure goes beyond mere deprivation – it is a profound and unjust cruelty. Following the transition from the republican system to the establishment of the Taliban regime on August 15, 2021, schools ceased admitting girls beyond the sixth grade, and their expected reopening within these two years remains indefinitely deferred. The Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan led to the closure of schools and universities. Also, it resulted in the displacement of numerous women from government and non-government positions, causing them to lose their jobs. Farzanah, an 11th-grade student, speaking to the Khaama Press News Agency, said: “I have been living at home for two years, and I have fallen behind in my studies. I dreamed of becoming a successful doctor, but now I can only attend a religious school.” This student strongly asserts that women possess equal rights to pursue education and employment in society, just like men. However, the unfortunate reality is that the lack of opportunities for girls has led some of them into situations like arranged marriages and enrollment in religious schools. Women’s rights activists view these practices as hazardous and limiting the progress of women’s rights. Julia Parsi, a civil activist in Afghanistan’s women’s movement, highlights the grim reality: “Afghan girls suffer from poor mental and emotional well-being due to rampant forced marriages. Tragically, instances of girls taking their own lives are being reported across various provinces.” Ms Parsi asserts that the Taliban government is actively attempting to exclude women from social and economic spheres. It is important to note that the recent decision of the caretaker administration in Afghanistan resulted in the closure of women’s beauty salons across the country which more than 60,000 women lost their jobs. Leila Basim, a women’s rights activist and protester, asserts that barring girls from education for two years severely harms women. Ms Basim further highlights that Afghanistan’s ruling ideology opposes women’s progress and aims to exclude them from society. Haider Bar, Human Rights Watch’s women’s division head, tells Associated Press that Afghan women’s lives have drastically transformed under Taliban rule in the past two years. She added that the situation in Afghanistan remains dire, with ongoing concerning developments. Every week, the Taliban introduces new policies, including the recent closure of women’s hair salons. Despite claims by Taliban officials that women’s rights are upheld within Islamic laws, the reality does not align. Discussions about reopening schools and universities have spanned two years without materializing. This denial of education has sparked global outrage. The United Nations has labelled it “cruel,” while Human Rights Council experts have condemned it as “gender apartheid.”