Taliban ban women from university
Young girls in class, Kabul, May 2022
You may have heard the news the Taliban leadership have banned women from going to university. I'd met the few young girls who were allowed an education in private schools, women warned us it wouldn't last long and men pointed out some members of the Taliban had daughters in schools in Pakistan. Why were they allowed an education, they asked, and why can't my daughter leave and go to school there? It made me think. What happens in a few years to the Afghan girl who gets a degree in Pakistan, the daughter of a man part of a system denying it to others? Girls not allowed to go to school in Kabul pointed out some boys didn't bother attending their classes. There are journalists who have never left Afghanistan, this latest development has meant others will head back there. I'm hoping to be there too, and to head to Pakistan.
Women and girls at a community handicrafts project, May 2022
Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan has also made the news, most recently with TTP members taking the policemen holding them as hostages and demanding safe passage to Afghanistan. They were killed in an operation shortly after. Before that there was trouble at the border in Spin Boldak (the crossing near Kandahar) where Pakistani troops have clashed with the Taliban. This realignment of a relationship previously understood by the west as a friendly one has surprised many. This border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is recognised by most of the globe but not by most Afghans. Pakistan building a wall along it has angered many along it on the Afghan side. I’ll be following this as it progresses.
Back to the schools, as the press asked for justifications from the Taliban’s spokespeople in Kabul they said the situation would be resolved soon, a glimmer of hope came when young girls were told they could go back to school and then their dreams taken away at the last minute and now this. I'd visited a university in the north, in Mazar-e-Sharif, talked to the young women there who were studying law, economics and medicine. Some training was seen as essential by the Taliban, midwifery for instance.
Officials told us it was the conservative rural population of the country who didn't want their girls at school. That's most of the country. On visiting the results of the earthquake in Gayan earlier this year young girls had to take babies to see the doctor because their mothers weren't allowed in the community tent with the men. In one destroyed house I saw a man slap his daughter away, because they had visitors, us. This is a conservative society in a country now being run by a conservative group, the losers of this system those who tasted freedom in the last two decades.
A young girl takes a toddler to the doctor, Gayan, July 2022
It's of course, not as simple. The last government's corruption and ineffectiveness has also found a few headlines. Embarrassed western officials who worked in and around this likely don't want to hear anymore about Afghanistan.
Yesterday it rained, today we have the sun. I'm going to head out for a walk. I've learned recently I've been banned from using some of Facebook's functions after they deemed my posts about the Taliban were in support of a terrorist group. What's worrying is social media companies not wanting the responsibility of a publisher but that lots of people get their news from them, and in turn the companies restrict what is shown, their aim being to increase engagement figures to sell advertising space. Happy, benign and superficial subjects are welcomed. The complications of the world can be seen as a step too far. What we lose is the truth. Which is the price for it being free.
A young girl with her mother, Kabul, November 2021
Along with that thought I wanted to say thank you. For your support. It has meant I've been able to do more of my own work. There's more coming next year. In 2023, aside from Afghanistan and Pakistan, I'll be working on a long personal project on psychosis. And I’ll work out a way to sell prints but in the meantime, I wish you a great break wherever you are.
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