04 Mar Sania Speaks: A Young Woman on the Ground in Afghanistan Tells the Truth of Life Under Taliban Rule
My name is Sania,(not my real name). I am a 25-year-old Afghan girl living in Kabul. Today, my heart is exploding with pain and I cannot stop my tears so I decided to pen this note to V-Day. I am writing to you because I have known your organization for a long time, and it is one of the few that relay the true stories of Afghan women and girls to the world.
Soon after the Taliban took power in 2021, they banned high school for girls. We already knew then, that sooner or later they will close universities as well, because naturally there will be no high school graduates to join the universities. And this is exactly what happened a few days back. The Taliban officially banned girls and women from attending universities and from working in national and international NGOs. In a matter of seconds, we lost everything we had worked for our entire lives. I cannot express how heart-breaking and painful it was. I am still traumatized from the day I went to the university and they did not allow us to enter. I think, somehow, the ban hit us girls harder than the blast in Kaaj learning center that took the lives of tens of girls who had gathered there to prepare for their university entrance exam. They took our only source of happiness and peace during these horrific times.
Today, I can no longer attend my university to achieve my dreams to study computer science. I suffer from depression as I sit idly at home, thinking about this injustice and my uncertain future. I have thought a lot about it, but I cannot find a single reason as to why I have been condemned to this fate. Should I blame fate and luck? Can a nation as a whole be so unlucky? Should I blame the ignorant Taliban who went to religious schools and were trained to be ruthless and ignorant? Should I blame foreign countries who, for their own interests, toyed with our fate by using the Taliban excuse to attack and occupy our country for 20 years and then again to justify their disastrous exit under the false banner of ‘peace talks’? Should I blame the international community who do nothing more than give out statements after every medieval decree is issued (I mean, after all, the Taliban emirate is on its feet thanks to the weekly funds delivered by the UN)? I think this is it. Afghanistan has historically been the chess board for world powers. And in this power struggle between the US, Europe, Iran, Russia and China, the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalist groups were pawns. And the Afghan people paid the price for their rivalry. The world watched as Afghanistan burned in the inferno of war and Islamic extremism for forty years, millions of families mourned and hope was killed in our country. The countries that are sending space shuttles, that are trying to find life on Mars and are creating artificial intelligence, have created ignorant, misogynist monsters and let them loose on us.
My overthinking made me depressed. My family started worrying. They suggested I take up activities to busy myself. But there is nothing left for girls to do, no recreational activities, sports (they have closed female gyms) or socializing with friends outside. They have all been banned. I was attending an arts course near my home. I took up arts to express my feelings in a place where we don’t have the freedom to speak. My paintings described the suffering and pain of girls and my hatred towards these brutes. I had made great progress and was learning to do oil painting on canvas. The arts course was a form of therapy for all the girls. The day after the university ban was introduced, the Taliban special forces entered all the courses and threatened them to shut it down. ‘Do not say we did not warn you,’ they said. I keep remembering the horrifying raid and how they threatened to arrest and hit us if we do not leave immediately.
They have carried out public flogging and executions in many parts of Afghanistan. Videos of musicians being beaten and humiliated went viral several times. For now, they are only telling us how to dress, but pretty soon we will not be able to walk, talk or laugh in public. I feel imprisoned and suffocated.
However, all this is still not my worst nightmare. My worst nightmare is when the Taliban reach a deal with their foreign masters and decide to open schools, universities and allow women to work. Then these brutes will become ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’ and will continue their tyrannical rule with the full support of the world. Our people know the real faces of these criminals and will never forget their crimes. We do not deserve to be ruled by the criminals and terrorists who have killed thousands of our men, women and children and attacked education centers and hospitals. The restrictions on girls and women are a symptom, not the problem. The problem is that, in today’s world, medieval-minded criminals are able to rule our country with the implicit support of the major world powers (are we supposed to believe that these powers with nuclear arsenals really unable to defeat the Kalashnikov-armed Taliban?). The Afghan people, and especially its women, are on their own. They are more alone than ever.