We are the only country on earth where girls can’t go to high school, just think about that, group of teenagers say. This article is by Christina Lamb in Kabul.
A group of teenage Afghan girls attending clandestine classes in Kabul have written a heart-breaking letter begging people not to forget their plight after a year of being banned from going to school.
“Dear world,” they wrote. “We are the only country on earth where girls can’t go to high school, just think about that.”
Maryam, 16, wrote: “I wanted to become president of my country, not for position, wealth, or fame but to build my country and make Kabul as beautiful as Paris. But now I can’t even go to school.”
She added: “Maybe you think somehow Afghan girls can live without dreams but among us are girls who want to be doctors, engineers, an astronaut ... and for the last 20 years that your soldiers were here in our country you have encouraged us to think that we could be."
The letter, which included statements written by individual girls, was emailed to me by a teacher who runs a school secretly within her home, living in constant fear of being arrested.
“We live in a land ruled by Taliban who believe women and girls belong only in the kitchen, must cover ourselves head to foot and cannot even go out without a male escort,” wrote the teacher, identified only as Parasto.
The girls’ plea comes as the first anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover approaches on August 15.
At the time, pledges were made that young girls would be able to continue their education. However, a ban on girls returning to class was imposed in September last year and it has not been reversed — forcing many children to study in secret.
The letter ends with this appeal for help from the international community:
“We, the disappointed girls of Afghanistan, request that the Taliban, people of Afghanistan, Afghan men and women across the world, politicians, world leaders, the international community, and the world to make this happen again.
“We think this is a small wish and we don’t understand your silence. We know you spent a lot of money here and your own people were killed — are you just going to let that all be for nothing? You will not regret helping us — we promise you!”
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Secret schools like this one in Kabul are the only places under Taliban rule where girls can get the education needed to fulfil their dreams
PAULA BRONSTEIN FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES