Hearts may break, but spirits do not. So listen, murderers of Afghan women. There is steel in us, forged in fires that have burned across generations. You underestimate the strength of steel.
In Kabul on the morning of Sept. 30, nearly 400 young Afghans, primarily members of my country’s Hazara ethnic minority, were gathered inside a tutoring center to take a practice college entrance exam. They were separated by sex per Taliban-imposed restrictions, the girls in one area, the boys in another. The girls outnumbered the boys, as the Taliban’s closure of girls’ schools had made privately run centers such as this one the only places where girls could hope to continue their education.… Seguir leyendo »
“Can you see me?” the girl in the water asked me. “Can you see?”
We were at the Rwanda campus of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan — the boarding school for Afghan girls I founded — this Afghan girl and I, not long ago. She and her classmates were taking swimming lessons in our pool. She was in the deep end. I was standing at poolside. And she’d just let go of the wall.
“I can”, I said. I watched her legs kicking as she treaded water. “You’re staying up. You’re doing great”.
“Today’s the first day I can do this”, she said, the droplets flying, and her smile was so beautiful.… Seguir leyendo »
In Afghanistan, women now talk about their futures in the past tense. I was on a Zoom call recently with two young university graduates in Kabul, when I asked them about their plans. “I hoped to go …”, they answered. “I planned to do …”
But they won’t. They can’t. They have been judged and the verdict rendered: They are female, and for that, from the Taliban, there can be no mercy.
It’s been 11 months since the fall of Kabul, and the vanishing of women is nearly complete. The men who rule my country wield their control with a casual cruelty that can be breathtaking.… Seguir leyendo »
Have you seen the faces of the women of Kabul? Have you seen them, these women who are my Afghan sisters, carrying signs through the streets, their voices raised for justice, their bodies vulnerable and unafraid?
See them. Look now. Look before the blue tide rises, and they disappear below.
The Taliban decreed May 7 that Afghan women must cover themselves from head to toe in public. The blue burqa is the Taliban’s garment of choice; ideal, however, would be for women to never leave the house unless absolutely necessary.
In the Taliban’s Afghanistan, women’s bodies, opportunities and futures are to be utterly controlled by men, and in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, this control must begin at home.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes 20 years can fall away like nothing. Sometimes time telescopes into a vivid memory of a flash of red above a sea of blue.
On March 23, 2002, I was 12 years old, living in Kabul, walking into an all-girls public school for the first time in my life. The Taliban — the extremists who from 1996 to 2001 had essentially outlawed girls’ education — was gone, its regime fallen, its edicts swept away. It was the first day of the new school year.
But I remember the fear in our school courtyard that day. How it flowed around me in deep blue tides.… Seguir leyendo »
I got the call in the evening, as the sun was going down over Rwanda: President Paul Kagame wants to meet you. Tomorrow. Please take a PCR test in the morning. You’ll meet the president in his office at 2 p.m.
Wonderful, I thought. There’s so much I want him to know. I started lining up anecdotes in my mind, stories that would highlight the extraordinary reception the Rwandan people have given every single member of SOLA, my Afghan girls’ school, since our arrival here in August. I wanted to speak about kindness, and sensitivity, and humanity.
And I decided the best way to do this was to tell him: Rwandans are merciless on the soccer field.… Seguir leyendo »
In mid-July, in a rural part of Afghanistan, two sisters made a promise.
They’d just arrived home for their semester break from their boarding school in Kabul, and their grandmother came to see them, carrying scythes. The Taliban, resurgent, was drawing closer to their village. This woman told her granddaughters to take these curved blades, and she told them that if Taliban fighters ever came to the house, the girls must be swift. There would be no time to hesitate.
If the Taliban comes into this house, she said, use these scythes to kill yourselves.
The girls promised that they would.… Seguir leyendo »