22 Jan I am weary of life and of being a woman
Samina, (not her real name) ran a gym in Herat, Afghanistan and has two teenage daughters. Below is her story:
Around 14 years ago, a friend and I decided to invest in a gym for women and girls. The concept of a gym, especially for women, was relatively new in Afghanistan, but we believed it was a great idea. We saw it as a way to empower women to prioritize their health, fitness, and embrace self-love.
Unfortunately, our culture has never really encouraged women to focus on themselves; they are often expected to solely serve their husbands and children. So, we thought a women’s gym was a fantastic initiative. We established our gym, and during the first year, it was met with some curiosity and humor. People wondered why women were going to the gym. However, over time, we began discussing the many benefits of regular exercise, and we managed to encourage many women to join us.
After two years, women of all ages started coming to our gym to exercise, have fun, and take better care of themselves. Our success inspired women from across the country to open their own gyms.
When the Taliban regained power a few months ago, they immediately imposed a ban on all gyms for women. I never imagined that we would return to a time when the Taliban would rule again. I was utterly devastated and couldn’t believe it. While my personal losses and concerns about my future are a small part of my thoughts, the overwhelming question for me is how insane and cruel the world has been towards us.
Now, I face the daunting challenge of providing a future for my teenage daughters, both of whom have been barred from attending school. I worry about how they will navigate this challenging situation both economically and emotionally. They are taking every possible step to suffocate us, pushing us to the brink where we might lose hope. No school, no work, no trips to the park, no visits to the beauty salon, no hobbies or sports – it feels like we’re being denied everything. As a mother, it is heartbreaking witnessing my two daughters in a state of depression, sitting in fear in the corners of our home.