‘Nobody is coming to help us’: Afghan teenage girls on life without school

Last Updated: June 23, 2024By

Dreams Crushed: The Plight of Afghan Teenage Girls under Taliban Rule


Just a bit more than three years back, Asma’s future was bright with possibilities. She was 15, attending secondary school, dreaming of university and a life beyond. Like many Afghan girls, she knew education was her ticket out of the dark past that had held her mother and grandmother tight under the Taliban’s grip. She was part of a new wave, a generation set on independence and economic freedom.


Then came May 2021, when bombs shattered the walls of her school, killing 85, mostly girls like her. Asma woke up in a hospital, only to find the Taliban in power, sealing her fate away from school forever.


Now, over 1,000 days have passed since the Taliban closed the doors of education to girls like Asma. Their lives have spiraled into darkness, marked by forced marriages, violence, and lost dreams.


The Bleak Reality of Lost Dreams

Asma’s journey mirrors that of many Afghan girls. Without school, her path was predictable: forced into marriage, dreams dashed against the harsh reality of Taliban rule. “When I talked about my dreams, they laughed,” Asma recounts. “They said girls will never study again. Better to marry.” And so, she did, facing a life she never chose.


Fast forward to today, Asma, at 18, carries the weight of a future stolen. “Finding out it’s a girl…” she trails off, her voice heavy with despair. “Being a girl here isn’t worth it. She’ll never reach her dreams. I wish it was a boy.”


Trapped in Despair

Benafasha’s story adds another layer to this tragedy. At 13, the Taliban’s rule closed her school, pushing her into marriage. Her sister’s words echo the pain: “He beat her brutally,” she says. When Benafasha sought help, the Taliban’s courts silenced her, locking her in prison for daring to ask for freedom.

The toll is visible everywhere. A UN survey revealed 76% of Afghan women and girls feel their mental health crumbling under the weight of trauma. Insomnia, depression, and anxiety are their constant companions.

A Cry for Help

Marzia, a mother watching her daughter fade into despair, voices the collective plea: “She talks less, sleeps more,” she says, helpless. “I always dreamed she’d become a doctor. Now…”

The international community’s silence is deafening. Heather Barr from Human Rights Watch warns, “The Taliban aren’t just taking away schools. They’re erasing girls’ humanity.”

Hope Amidst Darkness

Yet, amidst this darkness, a flicker of hope remains. Fariah’s daughter clings to the belief that someday, things will change. “She’s among the smartest,” Fariah says proudly. “She dreams of school returning, of a different future.”

But Fariah knows the truth. “I experienced this regime,” she whispers. “Nobody is coming to help us.”

Asma, Benafasha, and countless others represent a generation lost to the shadows of Taliban rule. Their dreams crushed, their voices silenced. And the world watches in silence.

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