An Essay by Sharifa Ahmadi

Afghanistan is a country where girls have less opportunities and rights than boys. Afghan girls can be divided into two groups. First, girls who live in rural areas, where there is no school or only a school 3 or 4 hours away. Sometimes in these places it is the custom to prevent girls from attending school. These rural girls do not know their rights such as getting an education, working, marriage rights and going out of the village.

Uneducated girls work in the agriculture field, collecting brush from the mountains and deserts to use as their fuel for cooking and heating the house. They are dependent on their families. They spend their childhood as shepherds, and their teenage years as house and field workers.

When marriage time comes, these girls’ families choose boys according to their wishes not the girls. Girls have no option but to accept their family’s decision. They will start a new life without having any involvement in the decision. They will face many challenges, and some will have such a hard life that they will kill themselves by self-burning.

On the other side, girls who live in the city have a different life style. These girls go to school and university, they get jobs in Non-Government Organizations, governmental offices and other areas. In cities the life styles and opinions of each family are different. Some of them give much freedom to their daughters and sons, but some of them give less freedom.

In the case of marriage, educated families say that they give the rights to girls and boys to choose their own life partner but there will be some restrictions. Some families support their daughters and stand by her side during various situations and important decisions such as marriage. But some families tell their daughters that if they choose a certain boy as their life partner then the family will not participate in her life any longer. They will cut their relationship with their daughter. They give the daughter a choice: “Us or him.” Indirectly, they are taking their daughter’s rights away.

I hope one day everyone will know their rights and others’ rights and everyone will be busy with their own lives and stop interfering in others’ lives.

About the Author: Sharifa Ahmadi is from Bamyan, Afghanistan and has worked as a teacher for Jesuit Refugee Services. She recently graduated with her MS in Mathematics from a university in India. She wants to raise her voice through her writing on behalf of women who live in many difficult places.

Writing by Afghan writers. Editor/Publisher: Nancy Antle; Editor: Pamela Hart