Afghan Girls And Women Push Back Against Taliban Restrictions

The internet has opened doors that the Taliban wants to keep closed. Photo by Stringer/Getty Images

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When the Taliban captured control of Afghanistan, its member quickly imposed a number of strict laws limiting the rights of girls and women nationwide. Among the most notable examples is a restriction on higher education — but some activists are risking their own safety to fight against the oppression.

The story of M.H.

One Afghan teen who is experiencing the impact of the Taliban’s extremist agenda is M.H., who didn’t want to be identified by her name out of fear of retaliation. After graduating high school at 15, she hoped to challenge gender stereotypes by becoming an engineer.

Instead, she’s faced with the fact that people in her position can’t even legally attend college. That rule went into effect when she was just a few courses away from attaining her degree and is estimated to impact about 90,000 women across Afghanistan.

“Now I cannot even apply for any further education because I have no document to prove that I finished my engineering degree,” she said.

After the Taliban took over in 2021, women soon began to see their rights evaporate, but individuals like M.H. refused to simply acquiesce.

“I cried myself to sleep for many days, but then I told myself, ‘I cannot let this be my reality.’”

Exploring alternatives

Technically, the Afghan law allows women to enroll in college under certain circumstances and on a part-time basis, but the power of the internet has expanded the horizons of students like M.H.

A number of private universities from around the world have started offering online classes like the ones that she is currently taking.

As University of the People President Shai Reshef explained: “The future prospects for Afghan students are indeed bleak but that does not mean they should stop their educational journeys.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee February 25th, 2023
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