You would never know we are living in the 21th century in Afghanistan. We are a country where unarmed civilians are terrorized by ISIS, Taliban and other government opposition groups. There are 34 provinces in Afghanistan and most of these provinces are controlled by opposition groups. A few of them like Bamyan and Bakhshi were safe.
But now Bamyan is also not safe, especially for girls. We are witnesses to the deaths of seven girls, 17- 28-years-old, who were students. According to Karima Salak, Head of Women’s Affairs Department in Bamyan province, three of the women killed themselves, but four of the deaths are unsolved. All of the deaths occurred at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 and still police couldn’t find the reason for these unknown killings.
One of these girls was my student. I have taught English since November 2015 for Dari native speakers for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) organization. My student’s name was Parwin and she was around 22 years old. She studied English as a second language with me and she also studied at the university. When she was my student, she was a very polite, fast learner and hard worker. When I taught her, she was in Higher-Basic class and she had recently moved on to the Foundation Level class.
I was teaching Mathematics in another center for the same organization when I received a phone call from my coworker who teaches English with me. She told me that Parwin had been killed by a knife in Gorwana village in the center of Bamyan. People found her and carried her to the hospital but she died there.
This news was terrifying. It is hard to express how bad this made me feel. The police investigated but couldn’t find any answers. This and other events has made some girls too afraid to continue going to school and university. Now they prefer to stay in in the house. Those of us who do jobs like mine are constantly afraid of going to work, but we overcome our fear and continue teaching tomorrow’s generation. I ask other girls and women to continue going to school and university. Let’s stand stronger than before, together.
About the Author: Sharifa Ahmadi is from Afghanistan and worked as a teacher when she wrote this essay in 2017. She is currently a university student in India working towards her MS in Mathematics. She wants to raise her voice through her writing on behalf of women who live in many difficult places.