Shutter to think.

Under the Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, female education was banned. Women and girls were excluded from all aspects of Afghan educational life, from primary school to university.

During the time of the Taliban, girls were not officially allowed to attend schools. Government statistics indicate that there were no girls enrolled in schools in 2001.

More than six years since the fall of the Taliban, fewer than 30% of eligible girls are enrolled in schools.

In just two years, more than 640 schools in Afghanistan and more than 350 in Pakistan have been bombed, burned or shut down, according to the education ministries in both countries. Eighty percent of those targeted were girls’ schools.

The United Nations estimates that every single day a girls’ school in Afghanistan is burned down or a female teacher killed.

Girls of Afghanistan getting an education.  These images need no photo manipulation to be amazing.  They just are.


12 thoughts on “Shutter to think.

  1. Shane Simon says:

    It’s amazing to think what a difference the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan has made in the past nine years or so. Whether or not you agree with the motives of the regime change, how it was carried out, or how it is currently being handled, it is hard to dispute that it was not needed. Despite some of the Bush Administration’s early blunders, progress is slowly and painfully being made.

    The Taliban was/is one of the most repressive groups on the planet. The fundamentalist Islam they practiced degraded women and girls as well as any men deemed enemies of the state.

    Clearly, Islam has been oversimplified by the Western news media and portrayed as an outdated and monolithic religion. This is simply not the case. Islam is a multi-faceted belief system with many different interpretations. Most Westerners believe that radical Islamists, like the Wahhabists based in Saudi Arabia, are representative of most of the Muslim population. These groups represent only small pockets of extremism in a larger sea of understanding and reasonable Muslims. It is important that the United States and other Western nations do not allow these small groups to flourish.

    The fact that these young women are being educated makes for remarkable progress in avoiding what Samuel Huntingdon called the “clash of civilizations.” Now that these girls are attending school, they can participate in the dialog of civilizations instead, and work toward reaching a common ground with the Westerners who radical Islamists would have them believe are their moral enemies.

    NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has written extensively on the subject of the importance of such a dialog. He believes that is must be two-way, between Western culture and Islam, instead of the West dictating every policy initiative. These young women are receiving an education so they can do exactly that, communicate with the West and help to rebuild their nations into autonomous, fully functioning, and moderate states. Education will free them from the bonds that the Taliban has long used to hold power in Afghanistan, a nation that was largely illiterate before the US intervention.

    With dedication, perseverance, and a little luck, these girls can change the future and sweep Huntingdon’s theory of the clash of civilizations into the dustbin of history. Our job, however, is far from done. We must not allow the forces of extremism and hatred to once more suppress the hopes and dreams of the people of Afghanistan. We’ve made the mistake once before, aiding the Muhajadeen during the Soviet invasion of the late 1980s and then withdrawing and allowing radicals to seize power. We must see this latest job out, for as long as it takes, to ensure that these girls can finish their education – lest their full potential should never be realized.

  2. Sara Hollingshead says:

    It’s interesting for me to look at these pictures. I have a basic idea of what’s going on between the United States and the Middle East, but nothing fabulous (I’ve tried to get a better understanding but hasn’t worked yet). For me, education is the key to the world. I was taught from a young age that completing high school would guarantee you’d get accepted into a great college. Graduating from college meant a great job, life, success, love, fame, and all that jazz. And because of this social norm ingrained in me, I’m working to complete/follow these steps.
    But for me, these pictures show something different. I went to a private, all-girls Catholic high school. So yes, the Catholic Church influenced many classes and ideas, though many teachers were open to different views and anxious to hear different opinions. In my class alone, you could count on at least ten different girls to challenge the teacher, Church, or classmate. Girls’ education was valued and very important for my school, we were given a special opportunity where we were allowed to grow and flourish while being educated.
    I took/and still take for granted my education. Seeing these girls and schools being killed and burned down is odd (I actually can’t think of a word to describe these actions so I just used odd). It’s sad to know that although education is the key to life that these governments are limiting and prohibiting girls in these countries from ever accessing that key. Although these pictures aren’t probably from the same schools/area, these pictures are depicting Greg Mortenson’s work (Three Cups of Tea- school builder). It’s heartbreaking to know that hard work and efforts similar to Mortenson probably produced and built these schools, but the government doesn’t think women should be educated and are restricting and limiting them from ever being educated.

  3. Peter Cruice says:

    It’s hard to imagine that they have such an underprivlidged education. Everyone is forced to go to school in the United States, but in Afghanistan it’s not allowed as a girl while under the taliban rule. It isnt fair to the girls that the talibans are destroying the culture and education. The talibans are bombing their own schools, and buildings. They are also killing female teachers. This is just so sad to see, and wish there is something that we could do to help. I take my education for granted a lot of the time, and knowing that children and females over there would kill for a decent education makes me realize how lucky we are as a country to be able to have an educational system that is fair for both boys and girls.

  4. Chip Siarnacki says:

    Being an environmental studies major allows me to see this story from another angle. As everyone knows, the world’s population is well-past 6 billion and continues to grow in an astronomical manner. The common conception of how to control the world’s population in the most efficient manner is through contraceptives; however, the education of women has proved to be one of the most effective ways to control the growing population. In Iran, the education of women has proved to be successful in combating population control. After the government issued a program to educate women, especially in rural areas, the amount of children per household decreased. However, Iran’s newest leader has showed a lack of support for this movement, and as a result, women are being forced back to their traditional roles within society, which from his perspective, that is to raise children. Even though there other environmental issues that must be given attention as well, I believe that the education of women takes care of not environmental issues, but social ones as well.

    From my own personal perspective, I believe that women are discriminated in the workplace. Although I have never witnessed this at first hand, I know from my sisters that there discrimination is there. One of my sisters called it an “imaginary window,” that is the invisible barrier that prevents women from achieving the top positions in competitive working environments. I feel like there is still the perception that women and men have defined roles within society, especially in regard to family and the jobs they must fulfill. Although there have been dramatic improvements as far as equality in the workplace is concerned, there is still a lot more that needs to happen in order for perfect equality to be reached.

  5. Chris Drake says:

    This should be , if not the most important reason why we are in Afghanistan. Period. Forget about fighting random tribes and individual radical mad men because there will always be people like this. Give the power to the people so they don’t have to turn to these twisted religious fear mongering lunatics. Instead of fighting this war with guns we need to be fighting with books. Yes in the beginning it was smart to fight fire with fire but now America has the chance to really help this country’s abused people. It is my understanding that the troop surge will help keep the cities under control while the people can start their lives without the extreme sects of the Taliban. America has to make sure it leaves this country right or else there will be a whole new America hating generation.

  6. Amaury Ramirez says:

    These series of pictures are priceless. I’ve been taking a class with Cheryl Forbes titled “Discourses of Rape in contemporary culture”, and although we aren’t halfway thru the semester, I have been amazed by all the new information about women over-seas. Trust me, this amazement isn’t good.

    A little insight:
    Women all over the world have been victims of rape. Women are raped during war because it destroys the women and therefore destroys the population. Although this is so, and the warriors know this, the men show little value to their wives and the women in the communities. Nicholas Kristof—a columnist of the New York Times—has been taking trips overseas and giving us information on what has been happening to women. He has a book titled “Half the sky”, a must read.

    After reading “Half the sky”, I was very interested and what else Kristof had to say. I stumbled upon an article, more like a series of articles, where Kristof went to Cambodia where he manages to save two prostitutes. One of them he mentions that when he brings her back to her house, after being made a sex slave a month before, was not greeted by the family as if she was gone. More like if she had gone to the corner store or something. They were more amazed at the car. These actions allow criminals to take these women from the villages; it seems as if no one cares.

    The other women had been a sex slave for four years and she called the woman in charge of the brothel—mother. Kristof is very critical about how women are the ones running these brothels—who enslave their own kind. This woman, who was enslaved for four years, was used to this lifestyle and therefore she didn’t hope for something different.
    This enslavement of women will be very difficult to stop because of how many women do not have family support. Therefore they are very weak minded, in turn make mistakes that cause their lives to become in danger. As the drug problem increases, so does women trafficking.
    I just thought many of you guys would like to follow Kristof. Like I said before, Kristof writes for the New York Times.

    Check him out!

  7. Sandra Saetama says:

    It is unbelievable how in other parts if the world that by girls going to school they could posibly die. These girls shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to become someone very successful. Who knows if in this batch of girls there are future leader, doctors, engineers, writers, and much more. In the pictures the girls don’ t seem to know the danger that they are in (although now they must have been told about the risk they are at but not understand the reasons behind why the Tabilan would want to punish them for going to school).
    What parents would want their daughters to get killed? Of course, they want them to get an education but losing their children would be unbearable if they had a chance to stop it. Even though schools are opening for these girls the constant fear of death will stop parents from letting their daughters go to school.
    Women are capable of many achievements but the mentality that women don’t need an education is still around. My grandfather did not allow my mother to go to school after attending the second grade. He did not see any point in her getting an education because he believed that women would only end up being housewives. I recall my mother telling me this story about the sadness in her voice when he remebers how she loved to go to school and when her dad didn’t let her go anymore she cried. For this reason my mother is very supportive and is always telling us that with an education (which will lead to a good career) i won’t have to depend on a man for everything.
    It is unfortune how many children in the United States don’t take advantage of the education the government provides them with. They dont realize the circumstances that other children in the world are facing.

  8. king4648 says:

    Throughout world history, women have suffered profound distress from oppression. From all parts of the world, women were dominated by men. In Europe, women could not vote or go to school. All that was expected of them was to be in the kitchen and cook for their brothers while their brothers go to school. In her short essay, If Shakespeare Had Had a Sister, Virginia Woolf portrayed the unfair treatment of women in England during the Elizabethan era. Woolf described women as basically valueless in society. She said, “She [women] picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers.”

    Even now in this modern era, women are still denied their human rights. Women oppression is enormous in the Arabic world. I am not really surprised that female children in Afghanistan are denied education. However, it very sad and inhumane how girls’ schools in Afghanistan is burned down or a female teacher is killed every single day. The way women are treated in these countries make it seem like being a female/woman is a curse. Why not give female children education? Why make females suffer their whole life by doing things they don’t will to do by force? Women are like slaves to their husbands. Women are human beings persons too so they deserve fair treatment!

  9. sth2391 says:

    I’ve aware of the educational issues/problems that consume these poor girls under the Taliban rule, but the pictures in your blog post just completely overwhelm me. It’s true that nothing has to be said because a picture depicts a thousand words. Exposing the minds of these young, underprivileged girls to a good education is not such a bad thing. From these pictures, viewers should become aware of the thrill and passion these young girls feel when receiving an education. My appreciation for a good education and a wonderful family has grown over the past years. All my complaints are just ridiculous because I should consider myself so lucky. I have the opportunity to grow and prosper as an individual, and I feel that these young girls should be given the same opportunity.

  10. We take so many things for granted her in the U.S. For instance, the Toga party is this Friday. Girls will be trying to wear as little clothing as possible, while guys gawk in amazement. Put this in Africa–the girl would be beaten if not killed, while nothing would happen to the man.

    I think statistics like these should be made more well known to girls my age. I’m amazed when i hear girls say they aren’t registered to vote. Or when they take adderall to study (which guys do as well). When my peers abuse their education like this, I want to scream “Don’t you realize how lucky you are to be getting an education?”

    Go to Ethiopia, where it is not only expected but condone for a man to systematically beat his wife. It’s up to him if he wants to let soldiers or authorities rape her. An education for many women around the world is rare.

    But the key is an education. The more informed these women become the better they will be. I think our government needs to focus on what’s important. Not instilling our form of governing but educating the oppressed.

  11. MEM12 says:

    I completely agree with Stephen. Although I am truly embarrassed, and questioned whether I should openly say this but I am not currently registered to vote. I never realized or really understood how much women went through to gain all the wonderful rights that women today take for granted, including myself. We are only two weeks into Intro to Women’s studies and I have already gained such an appreciation for all that women today have, we truly have a wonderful life in the United States. I definitely took my rights for granted and plan on registering the moment I can as my first step to changing my attitude toward our rights. I have to keep telling myself that these rights are privileges and are not to be taken advantage of.

  12. Bre Nasypany says:

    Late December of 2007 and into early January of 2008, 1,200 Albanian men were held captive inside their own homes because of blood-feuds. If these Albanian men and boys were caught outside of their homes, they could be killed, living in constant fear whenever they left. Because of their inability to leave the home, men were forced to do “women’s work” of cleaning while the women of the family worked in the fields and paid the household bills. One young man, Mojo Muriqi, said, “Before, I led a normal life. I went to the city. I played football and hung out in bars with my friends. I was finishing school and deciding what profession I wanted to follow. Now it’s just like being in jail.”

    This spurred some thoughts about all the women who are forced to live this way for their entire life with no education and no work. They are simply not “allowed” to leave their homes. Not because it is dangerous in some cases, but because the men do not want them to leave. Some of these women have had their feet binded, like in the Chinese culture, so it was impossible to go too far away from the home, or they were simply not allowed out of the house without a man to protect them. Honoring killings occur all over the world and for various reasons, but most murders are conducted by the men of the household on the women, for either going out of the house or disobeying them, which results in a dishonor to the family. In some cultures where honor killings occur, the honor of a family is more important than the life of a family member… a female is replaceable but a family’s honor is not.

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