Kabul, Sep 19 (EFE).- Shelves full of books and a table in a basement under the busy streets of Kabul have become a weapon against the oppression of the Taliban regime, a clandestine library for Afghan women who do not go not at school by the Islamist veto.

The hundreds of books that fill the library have traveled clandestinely from hand to hand, avoiding the controls of the Taliban government which, after taking power a year ago, banned the opening of secondary schools for women.

The lives of Afghan women after the veto

El veto se hizo oficial el pasado 18 de septiembre, cuando después del parón escolar por la inestabilidad desencadenada por la victoria islamista y la retirada apresurada de las tropas estadounidenses, solo se prohibió el regreso al colegio a las studentes de secundaria, mientras sus compañeros volvían in class.

Dozens of women took to the streets to protest despite Islamist reprisals, some of them even being detained, held incommunicado and under torture, but faced with the lack of results, they opted for a change of strategy .

“We decided to do something for ourselves instead of waiting for the international community or another body to do something for our rights. We opened a library,” the leader of the Spontaneous Women’s Movement in Afghanistan, Zholia Parsi, told Efe.

How did the idea come about?

The idea had circulated on social networks and in no time the books began to arrive, sent by social activists, students, writers, poets or friends. Thus, Zan Library (Women’s Library) was formed. “So far we have over 2,100 pounds,” Parsi said.

The activist argues that allowing afghan women access to knowledge is a new act of rebellion on the part of this part of society which refuses to wait idly for the arrival of outside help or for the Taliban to change its mind.

This way of accessing knowledge despite setbacks “is a kind of protest to show the Taliban and the international community that girls and women in Afghanistan need education, in addition to participating in public life, and we We’ll try to help everyone in this difficult time,” he explained.

Under the Taliban regime, women “are barred from public life and deprived of work and education, limiting themselves to staying at home”, the library is therefore intended for “all the girls who study but who are prohibited from education,” he said.

The activist also does not forget “the women who have lost their jobs” and are still waiting, as in the case of high school students, for the Taliban to find the formula so that they can return to their work while respecting Sharia or Islamic law. .


Faced with this situation, secrecy has become the surest means of contradicting the mandate of the fundamentalists, with demonstrations that have been held indoors and without an open appeal, or the Zan library itself, which has opened it with its back to the Islamist authorities.

Underground Library for Kabul Women
A group of women in an underground library in Afghanistan. EFE/EPA/STR

Although they didn’t ask for permission to open the library, Parsi is sure they “wouldn’t allow it either.”

But in a country devastated by two decades of war and international sanctions, the challenges are not limited to the rollback of women’s rights under the taliban regimebut also to the scarcity of resources to maintain a project like this.

At the moment, an organization has advanced the first three months of rent, “but we have more expenses to run the library and also expand it to other provinces,” said Parsi, who is now asking for donations to maintain the library. initiative alive.

Another of the activists, Laila, believes that the world has fallen into the trap of the Taliban, who deceived everyone into believing that they were not the same as under their first regime between 1996 and 2001, when they forbade the female education and they relegated housewives, which proved wrong last year.

The Taliban “do not change”, stressed the activist to Efe, who regrets having “lost everything, the achievements of the last 20 years, and that there is no future” for them, “only darkness”. Laila asks the Taliban to listen to people and not just their “slaves”.

A clandestine library for Afghan women in Kabul
A group of women in an underground library in Afghanistan. EFE/EPA/STR

The future of Afghan women

“Only we can feel the pain and disappointment, it’s hard to believe that for a year we didn’t have access to work and education, an Afghan girl is banned from education for over a year , do we have any future? “I see a future destroyed and in darkness,” he said.

The criticisms of these militants are not limited to the Taliban, but also to the inaction of the international community. Parsi thus regrets that when they meet representatives of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), they ask for “patience”, while they continue to talk with the Islamists.

The UN rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, in a report on Monday openly denounced the situation of women under the Taliban regime, showing his “serious concern” over the closure of secondary schools for girls in 24 of the 34 provinces. from the country. , forcing some 850,000 Afghan women to drop out of school.

Edited by Rocio Casas

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