The Bravest Girls in the World

Editor’s note: Pakistani teenage blogger Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head on October 9, 2012, by Pakistani Taliban on her way home from school because of her outspokenness about girls’ education. She is recovering in England.

When I heard about the shooting of fifteen-year-old Malala by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan in October I could picture the Taliban in my mind vividly. It was selfish, but my first thoughts were about myself. If Taliban gunmen were to shoot me in the street, how would I feel? My heart pounded. I thought of my family. They might not be safe enough.

My younger sister, who goes to school every day—what would happen to her? What would happen if the Taliban began searching for Afghan women bloggers and found this website? What if they target us next time?

These questions are with me every day. I wake up and see that we are one day closer to 2014 when American troops will leave. I wish they would stay. What will happen when they are gone? Maybe something worse than the fears I carry in my thoughts.

I wish I was smart and brave enough to do more than blogging—to do something like Malala. I also wish I didn’t have to; that I could avoid this big mess. I wish I was brave enough to shout for freedom and demand my rights, to call out to people around the world and ask for justice.

But I am afraid.

It is not because I am weak; it is because I love my family, my country, and my safety. Love brings fear and fear does not let me be brave. Fear makes me shiver, makes me cautious. I wish I could stand up, ignore my fear, say what I want to say, and protect what I need to protect.

I am not asking for help. The only thing I am asking is to be left alone. I want to be able to walk in my own streets without fear, without being followed, and without feeling bad about my country. I want to be proud of it. Let me be.

Many Afghan girls share Malala’s hardship. Some are worse off. Malala could raise her voice, at least. The voices of girls are silenced every day in Afghanistan. Most girls cannot even think of going to school. Seeking knowledge is forbidden by the Taliban, whose name means “knowledge seekers” in Arabic.

I believe the Afghan girls who cannot raise their voices today will lead Afghanistan tomorrow. I ask the Taliban: How will you oppose thousands of girls standing up for their rights? You can kill one of us, you can kill two of us, but can you kill all of us?

We will make Afghanistan a place to live and love without fear, without war—without the Taliban. Afghan girls, who deal with the violence and fear imposed by the Taliban every day, may be the bravest girls in the world.

By Fatima H.


Comments

  1. Fatima,

    It seems to me that you are very smart and brave. Writing is brave. I pray for peace and safety for you and your family and all the women of your country.

  2. Fatima

    I truly hope that your country and your people will know peace and safety. When women and men who share these values and desires stand together, you will achieve things.

    elaine

  3. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dear Fatima,
    You write with such clarity and intelligence and yes, courage!

    I love your final image of Afghan women leading the country you love so much. I agree with you — the Taliban cannot kill all of you.
    Warmly,
    Liz

  4. You are the bravest girls in the world. And I will stand with you until that day when it is safe for you all to walk the streets and go to school. Thank you for the courage you demonstrate to keep blogging.

  5. Suzanne Scarfone says:

    Dear Fatima,

    You are brave, intelligent, and superbly talented. I know you will make a change in the country.

    Peace,

    Suzanne

  6. It is the Taliban who is afraid of you. That is why they go to such extremes to keep girls silent. You are a brave and powerful writer. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  7. As you know, your piece touched me deeply. I find it quite brave. Thank you for writing it.

  8. You sweet, brave, brilliant girl…….. I wish I could help you.
    Thanking your for your blog, your images, your honesty isn’t enough.
    I feel useless to you in writing a mere comment. I am sorry I, we, can’t
    do ore for you. I hope that changes. Be safe.

  9. Charlotte N. says:

    Your really are the bravest girls in the world. It has to be really hard not to be able to feel safe in your own country. Women deserve to have access to education and have the same rights as men. It is terrible to punish women this way only for speaking up for themselves. Malala’s story is a symbol of injustice but also of bravery. She spoke up for herself and all of the women like her, and I have an immense respect for her. I know that someday the Earth will be a world of peace, equality and freedom, and it is the people like Malala who will make it happen.

  10. Dear Fatima,
    Thank you sharing your writing. You truly are the bravest of them all! I hope that soon everyone recognizes and applauds your courage, your right to education and your determination to live without violence. You are a powerful writer! Please continue to write for all of us.
    Regards,
    Kanu Gulati

  11. Fatima,
    It breaks my heart to see such terror in the world. In a country such as America, we find ourselves so isolated from such things. We have our own heart breaks, our own fears, but the fear of actually living and expressing ourselves is not one of them. In fact, it is probably our most protected freedom. We can educate ourselves, speak our minds, practice whatever religion we choose, without fear of retribution. How often we take such things for granted. It actually brings feelings of shame to think of our blindness.

    When you mention our troops leaving, it brings such mixed feelings. We have so many leaders here that are adamant about getting our men and women overseas home. They say it is not our fight to fight. However, when my friends and family that serve in your country, they tell a different story. They tell me of your people, the difference they get to make, whether it is helping build a school, getting medicine to the sick, or fighting off the Taliban, let me speak for them on this forum, the soldiers I know, are proud of what they are doing and feel like they have a bond with your people that means so much to them.

    Whatever the outcome, never let your voice be silenced. There is no shame in speaking on this forum. Wherever your voice may be heard, let it ring out. As you said, they cannot kill all of you. I wish I had an answer or some hope that I could give you, but I will leave with this, let your voice be heard, among your people, on the internet, speak to our troops, they are listening and they care. Refuse to be silent. To to be silent to already be dead.

    Donovan

  12. Dearest Fatima, I adore your strength and courage! Thank you so much for sharing this story. I really hope that you will stay encouraged and continue to fight. It is not fair that women have to suffer and endure so much pain. You all deserve happiness and I pray that female voices will be heard. Always remember that when “one person fall, another one will stand up.”

  13. Jessica Spinnler says:

    I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to be a woman in your position. I feel very blessed to have been raised in America. I take things like going shopping, wearing make up and clothes, and even getting an education granted every day. I think you are very brave for even blogging. The power in writing is amazing. If your thoughts were to reach enough people, you never know what could happen. I will never understand how a group of people feel it is ok to oppress an entire group of people, based on sex, color or religion. History has proven that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. I hope that things change for the women in your country sooner than later. May peace be with you!

  14. Robert S. Runkle says:

    Dear Fatima – I know you via Kirk Kubicek, who has mentored and supported my journey. You are a brave woman and I appreciate your blogging. Keep going, know that others support this effort. Peace, Bob

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