Malika is an illiterate woman from Herat province.
Herat– I have heard a lot about women’s rights in Islam, but I never saw it being practiced by anyone in Afghanistan.
The revolution, the Taliban, and some other difficulties caused me to remain illiterate. During the Taliban reign, no girls were allowed to attend schools. They destroyed the girls’ schools so that most of the girls and women would remain illiterate. I am not eligible for human rights in my own life.
When I go to the bazaar or somewhere else, I wear my burqa. I am allowed to go out alone in my burqa and I feel safer when no one can see me but I can see them. At home I do all the house chores. Almost every Afghan girl does house chores. It is their obligation. We have children, husbands, and in-laws and we have to serve them. This is our job. We do not work outside the house.
If I were literate, I would have wanted to work for the government to help our people. I didn’t even have the right to choose my life partner. My family chose my husband for me, but now I am happy with him. I always had a dream to become someone in my life, to serve my people, as a doctor or a teacher or a nurse. In my view a Muslim woman should have the right to work, to study, to go to a masjid religious school, to serve the government and the people of her country.
Men and women are equal in Islam, but in Afghanistan they are very different. In rural families when a girl is born, the parents of the child are very sad. For example just a few days ago a baby girl was thrown away on the streets in a small box. She was newly born. These narrow-minded people make me regret being born a girl. My request for the government is to stop these bombings, save our innocent youth, and also create jobs for them. So much of the population is unemployed.
By Malika, as told to Storay
Photo: Canada in Afghanistan/Zakarya Gulistani
Malika, I am deeply saddened that the events in Afghanistan have caused you to remain illiterate. I’m sure you would make for an expressive author, and being able to write and read would have enabled you to have a sense of liberty in times when you feel trapped by a rather oppressive culture. I am also very sorry that the ways females are treated in your culture have caused you to regret being born a girl, and I hope you are able to love yourself for who you are despite the rules set by the world around you. I realize that can be difficult, but I hope you know that many other people around the world side with you in the belief that everyone should have access to equal opportunities. Even though you do not have many rights, you still consider how you can help the rest of society for the future, and I really admire this selfless quality of yours. You are truly a compassionate person, and I hope the changes you wish to see in society happen in the near future.