Afghanistan girls’ education: ‘When I see the boys going to school, it hurts’

By Yogita Limaye

Afghanistan correspondent

“Every day I wake up with the hope of going back to school. They [the Taliban] keep saying they will open schools. But it’s been almost two years now. I don’t believe them. It breaks my heart,” says 17-year-old Habiba.

She blinks and bites her lip trying hard not to tear up.

Habiba and her former classmates Mahtab and Tamana are among hundreds of thousands of teenage girls who have been barred from attending secondary school in most of Afghanistan by the Taliban – the only country to take such action.

One-and-a-half years since their lives were brought to a halt, their grief is still raw.

The girls say they fear that global outrage over what’s happened to them is fading, even though they live with the pain every day – intensified this week when another school term started without them.

“When I see the boys going to school and doing whatever they want, it really hurts me. I feel very bad. When I see my brother leaving for school, I feel broken,” says Tamana. Her voice trembles and tears roll down her cheeks but she goes on.

“Earlier, my brother used to say I won’t go to school without you. I hugged him and said you go, I’ll join you later.

“People tell my parents you shouldn’t worry, you have sons. I wish we had the same rights.”

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