There was a time when I was only 4 years old, when I was too scared to play outside with my friends. I used to steal my brother’s schoolbooks and pens and draw pictures. During the Taliban regime, he was able to go to school. Girls and women were deprived of an education and freedom. Respecting or caring for females was of no interest to the Taliban. The Taliban were everywhere. I was afraid of being kidnapped. I stayed home and longingly looked out through the window to observe activities and people on the street. The fear of being kidnapped, being harassed and being killed was always on my mind and also in front of my eyes. My sisters, including my mother, wore a blue Burqa (Traditional Afghan Women Hijab) to go shopping. When I went with her, I always tightly grabbed my mother’s hand and never left her side. It frequently happened that my mother and I ran quickly from the market: the Taliban did not want women to stay out too long. Several times I witnessed the Taliban commanders hit women and children with a black cable. One day, my mother and I had to hide ourselves in a stranger’s house from a Taliban, a tall man with a black outfit and black long hair. I always had nightmares of being kidnapped by them.

One day, I heard neighbors screaming to run away from the city because the Mujahideen (a rebel group who fought against the Taliban) were entering the city to fight against the Taliban. I remember that I was shocked and hid myself in my mom’s arms. I was crying and imagining the death of my family. Immediately, my mother and my sisters packed some clothes and food and left for the village. The war was only in the city, and villages were more secure. I do not remember how long we stayed in the village, but when we came back after several months, the city and houses were empty. I could not see any men with long black clothes, black turbans and black eyes around my house. Everyone was happy that the Taliban had been forced to leave Afghanistan!

Unfortunately, the end of the Taliban regime was not the start of happiness for a little girl like me. Taliban directly and indirectly continued their terrifying terrorist attacks.

The darkness of the Taliban regime will always be part of my memories and the Afghanistan history; this nightmare is part of everyone‘s life, especially for women. Their regime was a deadly typhoon that I hoped would never return. It was a period that deprived a generation of Afghan women of an education. It was a brutal dark time when being a female teacher was a crime and resulted in severe oppression, even in death.

After the Taliban regime collapsed, I began to feel more free. Schools opened for girls again. Gradually, women started to experience freedom and learn about women’s rights. Many international aid organizations and countries invested in women’s empowerment and education.

Since 2001 girls have had the opportunity to again receive an education. Gradually, people were introduced to technology such as TV, internet, computer, social media and so on. Yet, the Taliban never really left Afghanistan. They were always in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks. Insecurity is a major issue in many provinces such as Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, where many girls have experienced acid attacks, schools have been bombed and schoolgirls and female teachers have been threatened, kidnapped and killed. We girls know for sure the Taliban never want us to get educated and to be the future leaders of our family, society and country. We know the Taliban do not support equality and advocate Islamic extremism practices. Nevertheless, we girls still hope for an education and will never give up on building our dreams.

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