Nov 06 (IPS) – The author is a journalist based in Afghanistan, trained with Finnish support before the Taliban takeover. His identity is not disclosed for security reasons. “When the sun rises in the morning, I see the light but I don’t feel like I’m having a bright day. I think how different these days are from our days gone by.”
These are the words of Sharifa, 48, an Afghan mother of five, who tells the story of her life shaped by the Taliban when they regained power two years ago. Tears streamed down her face as she told her story in her family’s two-room house in the Dasht e Barchi Qala neighborhood, far from the capital Kabul.
Sharifa lost her job as a housekeeper because Afghan women were no longer allowed to work under Taliban rule. Her two young daughters had to stop school for the same reasons.
“Will we have a future? she asked. “We live in a country where all women and girls are deprived of all their legal rights and we do not know what will happen tomorrow”, his last concern is: “we worry about the future of our children”.
For Sharifa and millions of Afghan women, the return of the Taliban, the extremist Islamic group that took power in August 2021, portended only misery.
“I think about the future. From the outside I may appear alive, but inside I feel dead,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
For the past five years, the family has led a rather peaceful and happy life, without worries, in the Dasht e Barchi Qala region of Afghanistan. Sharifa describes her husband as a kind and compassionate person.
After losing his job, her husband became the sole breadwinner of seven people. It therefore became necessary for their eldest son, who had dropped out of school for lack of money, to work and earn additional income.
Sharifa’s education was interrupted in tenth grade due to the demands of raising a family. Faced with this situation, she was determined to do everything in her power to ensure an adequate education for her five children – two boys and three girls.
“I was a mother who, despite all the problems and challenges in life, wanted all my children to have a higher education so that they could serve their country and family in the future.”
But all his hopes were crushed when the Taliban took power. It became clear that female students beyond the sixth year could no longer continue their studies. Women were also asked to stay home and stop working. Only the university was not banned.
But the saddest thing for Sharifa was the loss of her daughter, the eldest of her children. By age 24, she had completed grade 12 and, despite the ban on girls’ education, continued with great determination to attend university.
Little did she know that enemies of girls’ education were hiding around the corner. A bomb attack hit the Kaj Education Center in Kabul just as she was taking the university entrance exam. The educational center welcomed 500 students, including 320 girls.
The explosion had devastating consequences. Fifty students were killed and 130 injured. Among the dead was Sharifa’s daughter.
“When I learned that the education center had been attacked, I was shocked and rushed to the scene barefoot to look for my daughter,” she said.
Dozens of families lost their loved ones that day but, to their dismay, when they arrived at the scene, the dead and injured had already been transferred to hospitals. The Taliban had banned access to the center, with the exception of ambulances.
ISIS took responsibility for the attack, which was widely condemned around the world. Taliban officials also strongly condemned the attack and promised that the perpetrators would be punished, but nothing has been done since.
Sharifa says that the day she received her daughter’s body for burial was the most bitter and painful day because all her wishes were also buried with her daughter.
“From that day until today, I just breathe, but I don’t feel alive,” she said.
However, amid the grief, Sharifa continues to demand women’s rights and call for support from the international community and the UN to stop the Taliban from oppressing Afghan women.
“Afghan women have the right to play an active role in their society, in all different sectors, social, cultural, economic and political,” demands Sharifa.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service