Afghan women react to Taliban allowing girls back in school as fears persist for their safety

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The announcement of a return to school has Afghan women fearful to do so due to strict restrictions put in place by the Taliban higher education ministry. 

Such restrictions include separation of men and women. Women must wear an abaya robe and niqab covering most of the face. Women must also end their lesson five minutes earlier than men to stop them from mingling outside, and stay in waiting rooms until their male counterparts have left the building.

Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board Member Kelley Eckels Currie told Fox News the Taliban have had a “medieval mindset toward women.”

“Before the U.S. came in and put the Taliban out after 9/11, Afghan women were forced to wear a burqa in public … they could not go anywhere without a male escort … forced into marriage at any age … not allowed to attend school” Currie explained.

Afghan refugee women register to be seen by a doctor inside the medical tent at Liberty Village on Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec, 2, 2021. 

Afghan refugee women register to be seen by a doctor inside the medical tent at Liberty Village on Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, N.J., Dec, 2, 2021. 
(Barbara Davidson/Pool via AP)

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Currie said the Taliban’s claim to have changed during engagement with the U.S. is a lie.

“Those of us who have worked on Afghanistan know that just because they send their own daughters to school in Doha doesn’t mean that they think that the rest of Afghan women should be allowed to get an education,” Currie said. 

Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush and executive-in-residence at American University shared a similar sentiment. 

“There was nothing to indicate with any confidence that the Taliban was any different than it was before in terms of their mentality, their view of women, their role in society,” McBride said.

McBride added that the current treatment toward women in Afghanistan was predictable, stating, “The Taliban are PR masters because they are desperate to be legitimized on the world stage. They are warned that the economy is in desperate straits that can’t serve the people of Afghanistan.”

The fortunate few who were able to flee to the U.S. say women no longer have rights in Afghan society anymore. 

Zarah, 17, and Fatima, 18, told Fox News their story. 

Displaced Afghan women and children from Kunduz are seen at a mosque that is sheltering them Aug. 13, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Displaced Afghan women and children from Kunduz are seen at a mosque that is sheltering them Aug. 13, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. 
(Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

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The teens, on a Taliban kill list, are supported by former U.S. Marine and current Save Our Allies volunteer Andy Bass, who is helping Zarah and Fatima settle and adjust to their new lives.

“Women are fighting for their rights. Afghanistan government [was] working so hard for women’s rights, but now everything is broken,” the teens said. “Women are not working in society and [can’t attend] university … and we don’t have anyone in Afghanistan [to] defend our women, for women’s rights, human rights.”

The two disputed the Taliban’s claim of allowing women to return to school.

“Two weeks ago, the Taliban captured several girls that they were in a demonstration in Kabul. I’m really sad for Afghanistan’s situation right now,” said Zarah. 

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres took to social media to address his concern for the female Afghanistan activists who have gone “missing” or “disappeared” in recent weeks. 

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Ambassador Currie addressed the missing women, adding that it is common for everyday women to also disappear because they don’t recall Afghanistan without U.S. presence but “their mothers and fathers remember from what happened 20 years ago, what [Afghanistan] was like.” 

An Afghan woman, who asked to be referred to as “Noori” because she is hiding from the Taliban, was only nine months old when the Taliban bombed her house in 1997 due to her father’s involvement with their government. Noori was left with three fingers and three scars.

Her father pushed for her to seek an education and follow her dreams even though it could mean danger to their family. 

Before seeking asylum in the U.S., Noori visited a few times for surgeries, inspiring her to work in the medical field one day.

After she is granted asylum, she hopes to help her family and women in Afghanistan, inspiring them to chase their dreams.

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Noori’s asylum request has been tied up with the State Department for two years, and she is unable to become a nurse assistant until moving off her student visa. 

“There’s no way [the Taliban] can stop me because I’m a girl with the scars. They already ruined my life. I know what to do with my future,” Noori said. 

McBride echoed the wishes of Noori, saying, “[Afghan women] want the world to know what they achieved and that it is not for nothing. Unfortunately, things ended up as they did. But that doesn’t mean we stop telling their story.” 

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