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Written by Chike Donald Ibewuike

I was a girl who fought for my rights and dreams. I wanted to be a lawyer, a defender of human rights, a voice for the voiceless. Despite societal pressures hindering my dream of becoming a lawyer, I persevered, studying tirelessly and defying expectations. I aced the entrance exam and entered a prestigious law school. I moved on to become a human rights activist, and defended the vulnerable. However, unbeknownst to me, my life was about to change forever...

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Everything changed after the Taliban took over. The life I had built, the career that I loved, and the work I had dedicated my life to; all gone at the whim of a dictatorial government. A month after the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan, I went to my office and found it had been ravaged by Taliban soldiers. All signs of my office were gone. They had destroyed my files, my books, my certificates, my awards, my photos, my memories. They had erased my identity, my achievements, my legacy. Seeing this, all the desires I had for the rights of my people fled my mind like that of a wounded bird. From that bitter moment, I gave up my social status and had to hide with my family. It was very hard. It took my breath away. It broke my heart. It crushed my spirit.

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I wish that no girls anywhere should experience what Afghan girls have experienced under Taliban rule. I have been living in society for two years as a girl without any social status. I did all this to protect my family and my life. Now all the dreams of girls of my land are in vain. After the night of August 15, 2021 I couldn’t see any light in my country. There is darkness everywhere. I wished that the day before the collapse of Kabul would last forever, that it would never be night again. But my wishes are all for naught. Now it’s night. This night will no longer be the day. The conditions have become very difficult and the restrictions are increasing day by day.

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In these dark days, the only happiness that connected me with the outside world was the phone and my hands which made it possible to connect with friends all over the world. And whenever our calls were over, I wished I could allayed all my fears to them. But I realized that I must not say a word or a sentence against the government to any stranger lest my identity be revealed. Things began to change one day when I stumbled upon a Whatsapp message from a stranger.

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"Hello! I hope you are well. Dear lady, we ask for your cooperation."
I knew that speaking the truth could be a heavy responsibility. Despite this I did not want to remain silent and ignore the question. Bravely I replied to this unknown acquaintance.
"Yes. I am ready. Tell me how I can cooperate with you?"

"About the situation of women in your country."

Women of my country?"

I said the word “women” with emphasis...

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I said the word “women” with emphasis because being a woman in my country required courage. Being a girl in that place meant fighting to breathe, to be, to exist, and to be seen. The women of that place are the oppressed of history. Cursed geography, in its corners of a mother’s sigh, a sister’s woe, a daughter’s poverty, a wife’s helplessness. In short, pain is silently screaming.

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I decided to tell them everything. I decided to tell them about the horrors and injustices that I and other women have faced under the Taliban regime. I decided to tell them about the days when I was beaten, harassed, insulted, and threatened by the Taliban and their supporters. I decided to tell them about the dreams that I had, and the dreams that I lost. But I also decided to tell them about the courage and resilience that I and other women have shown in the face of such adversity...

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... To tell them about the ways that I and other women have resisted and challenged the tyranny and oppression of the Taliban. I decided to tell them about the light that I and other women have found in the darkness. I decided to tell them about the hope that I and other women have kept in our hearts.

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You may wonder what you can do to help me and other women in Afghanistan. You may feel powerless and hopeless. You may think that there is nothing you can do. But you're not. You are not powerless. You are not hopeless. You can do something. You can make a difference. You can be a part of the solution. Donate to organizations that support women and girls in Afghanistan, sign petitions and campaigns that demand action from the international community, and spread awareness and education about the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

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The fight against tyranny and oppression is a fight for our dignity, our future. We must hold the Taliban accountable, demand justice, and advocate for policies that respect and protect the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Let us educate ourselves and others, dispel the myths of extremism, and build a future where Afghan women don’t just survive, but thrive on the fruits of their own labor.

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