Shukriya is 18 years old and lives in Herat province.

Herat— I have heard a lot of things about women’s rights at school and on TV.  Women have the right to work outside the house, to study, to learn, to teach those who are illiterate. Women can make their own decisions, be equal to men, be allowed to pursue their higher education abroad or even inside the country and to not be forced to get married.

I attended school but could not continue because of the bad situation in Afghanistan. Most girls left school during the Taliban reign and remain illiterate and I am one of them. Now I stay at home unable to join school because of the bad situation still. Afghanistan has faced a lot of problems in the past 35 years and this has led its people to suffer a lot. We became the victims of these ongoing wars.

When I go out of the house, I wear chadari, the blue burqa. Women in Afghanistan work in their houses and do only the house chores. This is because of the problems outside, all the rape cases and other problems in Afghanistan that prevent them from attending educational institutions. My life decisions are made by my parents. They choose my life partner. 

I have always wanted to be a respected person so that people will think highly of me.  According to Islam, women’s and men’s rights are equal, but we are not equal at all. In our male-dominated society, women lack very basic human rights.

I have a request for the government: let us go outside the house without worrying about being killed or raped. Provide us with a peaceful society where we can continue our education and become knowledgeable in our lives.

By Shukriya, as told to Storay 

Photo: Canada in Afghanistan/Zakarya Gulistani