The Taliban's clampdown on educational institutions continues unabated, the latest casualty being the Ferdawsi Health Sciences Institute in Herat, Afghanistan. The official reason given for the closure is 'the mixing of girls and boys and the lack of adherence to the hijab.' However, local sources, including an insider at the institute, have refuted these claims, stating that the institute exclusively educated girls, with no male students in attendance.
The Impact on Women's Education and Rights
The fallout from this closure is significant, affecting dozens of girls actively pursuing their education. This is not an isolated incident, as the Taliban have previously shut down other educational facilities in Herat citing similar reasons—education of girls by male teachers and non-compliance with hijab norms. Since their resurgence to power, the Taliban have enforced numerous restrictions on women's rights, particularly in the arenas of education and employment, leading to concerns about the future of education, particularly for girls, under the Taliban's rule.
Distress Among Afghan Women
These restrictions have taken a toll on Afghan women. Maryam Rezaei, 22, like many others, has been stripped of her freedom, security, and basic rights, leading to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The reinstated Taliban rule, with its oppressive restrictions and loss of opportunities, has been likened to a life sentence. Studies reveal a high prevalence of psychological stress and mental health issues among Afghans, particularly women, as a result of the ongoing war, poverty, and traumatic experiences.
Stories of Courage and Resilience
Despite the grim circumstances, stories of resilience and courage emerge. Shabana, a young Afghan woman, shares her extraordinary journey of escaping the Taliban rule and finding freedom in Lacombe, Alberta. She underscores the repressive rules under the Taliban and the determination to pursue education and independence. Nadia Ghulam's remarkable survival story under the Taliban's rule, masquerading as a man for 10 years, mirrors the extreme measures taken by Afghan women to overcome oppression and persecution. These stories illuminate the challenges faced by women in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and their indomitable spirit to defy societal constraints for survival.