Class of 2022
Looking forward to my senior year, I am ecstatic to be serving as Editor in Chief of an organization I so cherish. Writing is of the utmost...
From America to Afghanistan: A Concerned Student Journalist Worries About the Fate of Afghan Women
September 2, 2021
The semblance of security is not a steady promise but a dismal hope in Afghanistan, a country suffering from the torrents of terrorism. Fear teems in the air as the Taliban retains power in the region after 20 years. A region of the world riddled in power seizures, religious extremism, and corrupt governments, the Middle East (more properly specified as a region of the middle east of Asia) has been burdened by instability, and women and girls’ civic rights are the most vulnerable to these tumultuous times. As a young woman, as a passionate student journalist, as an Iranian-American, and as a concerned global citizen, my heart is tormented thinking about the women and girls of Afghanistan paralyzed by the fear that every right will be seized from them.
The vitality and privilege of education is not realized until it is lost, until it is the only thing that you can cling to when darkness looms over the confines of life. Young women and girls will not be able to get an education under the Taliban’s rule, women’s rights suppressed to the extreme. In the 20 years since the Taliban’s previous occupation of Afghanistan, women and girls have garnered more rights. Although there were still limitations, women were able to work and generally receive an education in most parts of Afghanistan. The involvement of women in government positions catapulted in the past two decades, and rights from healthcare to the workforce increased exponentially.
As the Taliban regains traction in the region, women journalists are already being silenced and suppressed and are facing threats from the terrorist organization. The freedom of the press is paramount to the functioning of any society, and women journalists, especially in countries like Afghanistan, can be classified as some of the most resilient and enduring examples of authentic journalists. Now, female journalists face persecution amidst a regime that prizes conformity, a toxic hierarchy, and obedience to a system that denounces individual voice and expression.
Women journalists are facing threats for both their womanhood and their work as journalists. Journalism prioritizes truth and justice, meritorious values the Taliban fears because the voice is the greatest engine of social change. The utilization of the press is the most integral weapon against injustice. The press can be used to mobilize efforts against corruption, to inform, to offer seedlings of hope, and to call out mistreatment, abuse, and inhumanity. Journalists, particularly women journalists, wield an inherently precious power, something the Taliban wants to squander at all costs.
The Taliban’s immorality is already evident again in Afghanistan, despite promises that their conduct will be completely different from their notorious seizure of power in the mid-1990s. However, the extremist group has already fanned its poisonous ideologies. Women are living in fear to attend schools and workplaces, and are already exposed to brutality on the streets from the Taliban’s wrath.
And things are unfortunately likely to get worse. The now relatively non-existent Afghan government and the absence of U.S. troops have left Afghan civilians in a deadly pendulum, worrying about how the Taliban’s presence will affect their lives. Women and girls will likely face archaic laws to the extent or even worse than they did in the 1990s, being dictated on matters such as “acceptable social conduct,” schooling, work, and health freedoms.
Prior to Sunday, August 15 of this year, the Taliban maintained control in several regions of Afghanistan but not to the extent that it now possesses. Their extremist ideologies will seep like venom into the facets of everyday life for the civilians of Afghanistan, and their religious radicalism will muddle the progress that Afghanistan has been incrementally making in the aftermath of their last invasion.
Though young girls still underwent less schooling due to lack of resources and cultural norms dictating when a girl should halt schooling in pursuit of marriage, with girls averaging about only six years in formal education, progress was being made and trailblazing women held offices in parliament and other government sectors. Now, the Taliban proclaims that it will likely not allow women in senior government positions, already signaling their stance on women and their denouncement of equality. University students are being denied their education, and primarily women-occupied universities are being barred from taking their normal classes.
It is with a worried mind that I ponder the future of Afghanistan. I hope tremendously that humanitarian efforts will ramp up their aid. Still, I’m immensely concerned for the women and girls, those ingenious spirits pursuing higher education, a career, a dream of a more liberated life. We need to talk about what is going on in Afghanistan and the displacement of so many from their native homeland. It is heart-wrenching that political might is the marker of the day, that human life is left questioning if their rights will go from existent to obsolete in the matter of a night’s sleep. To do our part as informed people wanting to protect humanity and security. I have linked some sources to donate to organizations working to help the people of Afghanistan.
Some resources to help the people of Afghanistan/ read about the current situation unfolding:
- Ways to Support Women and Girls in Afghanistan
- Coalition for Women in Journalism
- Malala: I Survived the Taliban. I Fear for My Afghan Sisters.
- “You Have No Right to Complain”
- ‘We see silence filled with fear’: female Afghan journalists plead for help
- Female journalist flees Afghanistan following groundbreaking TV interview with Taliban spokesman
- Just 39 Female Journalists Are Still Working in Kabul After the Taliban’s Takeover
- Female Afghan journalists continue reporting as Taliban spokesman won’t say whether a new government will let them work
Class of 2022