Afghan high school girls have not returned to their schools since the Taliban returned to power last August. Afghanistan’s new rulers initially promised women’s rights but gradually expanded restrictions on women’s freedom over the past 15 months.
Millions of Afghan women have been confined to their homes, forced to spend their days working on farms, weaving carpets, and doing household chores.
“If there is no education and the situation continues, a generation of girls will face a dark future and they won’t have any rights,” Lima, 16, said.
The Taliban banned girls above the sixth grade from going to school after returning to power after running an armed rebellion against US-led foreign forces for 20 years.
Afghan girls now fear for their future as many of them have been transformed from students into child labourers.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Taliban authorities allowed Afghan girls to take high school graduation exams this week without allowing them to attend classes for more than a year.
Save the Children, which compiled the photo essay from across Afghanistan, has called on the Taliban to allow girls of all ages to return to school.
“There is no issue – administrative, logistical or otherwise – that can possibly justify the continuation of a policy that denies girls access to their education,” the international NGO said in a statement.
*All the names in this photo essay have been changed to protect identities