Khadija is 55 years old and lives in Herat.

Herat– I have heard a lot about women’s rights through TV, things such as women have the right to an education, a career, and a peaceful society. They say women have the right to vote, to make decisions in their family, to be literate and independent.

But I am not literate because during my life there have been very few opportunities. Schools were few and there were never enough materials like pens or pencils or notebooks. There were not enough blackboards or qualified teachers. In addition, society was not willing to let girls study. All the relatives would talk behind the backs of the girls who studied and giggle at them for going to school. It was considered shameful for girls to go to school. The boys were freely allowed to attend whatever they wanted to.

Now when I go outside the house, I wear chadari, the blue burqa. I am not allowed to go alone outside the house, not to the doctor or the bazaar. My brother chose my husband for me. We follow the traditions of not choosing our life partners ourselves.

Nowadays, society has improved compared to other times in my life.

My request from the government is this: please educate the mullahs of the masjids. Make them aware of the Islamic rights that a girl or a woman has under Islam. These mullahs must tell the men that women have rights so that they will be aware of it and will not torture their wives and sisters anymore and will stop violating the rights our religion teaches.

By Khadija, as told to Storay

Photo: Canada in Afghanistan/Zakarya Gulistani