By Jamaima Afridi
Spesali Zazai belongs to Afghanistan but migrated to Pakistan when the Taliban took over her country. After the death of her husband, she was left to bring up three daughters alone. But this, in the land ruled by the Taliban, was no simple feat. While Zazai could not go out to work, neither could she send her daughters out to study, leaving her no choice but to migrate to Pakistan.
A resident of Paktia Vilayat, one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the east of the country, Zazai was a social activist. She says she wanted to continue living in her home country even after the Taliban grabbed the reigns of power, but women there could not practice their basic human rights anymore. There was also a risk to their lives because of this.
“The right to basic education was taken away from girls and women,” says Zazai. “They could not work anymore. Those who used to work, they were stopped from working. This is the biggest reason why I had to shift to Pakistan.”
In Afghanistan, women cannot move about freely, unless they are accompanied by a man.
When Spesali Zazai was in Afghanistan, she chopped off her youngest daughters hair to make her look like a boy.
Sanna describes her experience and says it is incredibly difficult for women in Afghanistan because they cannot leave their homes without any man. “And we have neither a brother, nor a father,” says Sanna Zazai who is a class 4 student. “My sister and I could not even go to school, and receive education, because Taliban had closed down all the schools.”
Iftikhar a journalist from the Tribal News Network, says that education is a huge problem in Afghanistan. “In particular girls’ schools and institutions,” he says. “Apart from this the economy has gone so bad, that people are dying of starvation and hunger – people don’t get food even twice a day. And we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg as these reports are coming from women who are able to say something about themselves. We don’t even know the problems of those women who are imprisoned inside their homes, and are unable to get out.”
Like Spesali Zazai, others too have migrated to Pakistan since the Taliban takeover and experts say the population of migrants is likely to increase in the near future, which could cause the economy of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to become worse.