Editor’s note: In part 1, Sitara recounts the price she paid for defending her rights as a woman while studying at Kabul University. She continues her story with an account of what happened after she dared to stand up to her strictly religious Islamic Civilization professor.

After the day that I stood up for my rights in my Islamic Civilization class, the professor and my other professors changed their attitude toward me.

Whenever I tried to ask a question, they would refuse to respond to me. The suspicion that I had a relationship with foreigners or even with some foreign embassy grew until every professor and even my classmates thought it was true. I faced enormous challenges.

The worst challenge I faced during my university studies was in the last year of university. After we took our last exam, our Middle East history professor announced our score. He gave me a very unsatisfactory score, so I asked him to check my paper in front of me.

He refused and told me that he is the one who makes the decision. He had the right to give a student a high score or a low score, and no one could ask him why.

I complained to the faculty’s director, but he raised his voice and told me that I was the one who always created problems and insulted professors. He added that he knew I had a relationship with some foreign intelligence service and that the university could prove it. He told me he would report me to the police and even put me in jail.

I was scared, because there was no one to help me. They could do anything they wanted. I reluctantly gave up and accepted my grade.

Claiming our rights

There are a lot of things that happen in our life, and we encounter good people and bad people at school, university, work, and within our communities. We just need to learn to deal with them.

While we all have good memories and bad memories of our university days, I think that most young people have a good time at university. They enjoy themselves and have fantastic stories to tell.

Many of my own memories are bad, though perhaps others have also had bad experiences and could tell similar stories but would rather keep them to themselves. I prefer to share my story so everyone can know about the kinds of professors who have taught at Kabul University for years.

This disappointed me at that time, because there was no one to support me. I was alone in my fight. I often thought I could not continue, but after I got a job I found new friends who worked for women’s rights and also wanted to raise women’s voices in their communities. This made me more optimistic and encouraged me to continue my struggle. 

However, I believe that no matter how hard we struggle it is impossible to claim our full rights as women in Afghanistan and also in other underdeveloped countries, because the laws of these countries do not support us.

By Sitara