An apology to the Afghan girl

apology to afghan girl

Oct. 11 was the International Day of the Girl Child, a day to empower young girls and promise them a better future.

However, today, I am sorry to say to girls that I do not have good news for you. You have grown up with the promise of a better future. Throughout your life, you have seen international forces in Afghanistan as they were stabilizing the region, with the promise of a better future.

Throughout your life, you were told about human rights and that they were also for women and girls.

  • You were told that women can rule the world.
  • You have seen the powerful women on the news.
  • You have gone to school to have a better future.
  • You have made plans for a better future.
  • You have had dreams and hopes for a better future.

Then, in August 2021, all these promises, plans, dreams and hopes came crashing down one by one until there was nothing left.

After August 2021, you were told to stay home, as otherwise, you would not be safe.

You were told you could leave home only with a male chaperone.

After August 2021, you watched girls in sixth grade and below returning to school, but you know that their happiness is only temporary.

After August 2021, you were not called back to school for seventh grade or above.

You stayed home.

You know from your parents that under the Taliban reign between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were barred from school.

You wonder whether this is going to happen to you, too.

You wonder how you will be able to become a doctor or a lawyer without an education.

After August 2021, you watched as every piece of the country was taken over by the Taliban.

You watched as people were being killed or tortured. Thousands were fleeing. Thousands went into hiding. You are afraid, too. You smiled when you saw women protesting the reign of the Taliban.

That smile disappeared more with every whip they received for daring to protest.

After August 2021, you wondered whether you and your family could find a safe haven somewhere else where girls could have a better future. But you know that no nation is performing evacuations anymore.

You hear that nations do not want to offer resettlement for Afghans anymore.

You hear stories of the people left behind.

On this International Day of the Girl Child, I would like to tell you that there will be a future; however, I cannot make such a promise.

I fear for your future and I fear there is nothing I can do. For this, I apologize.

On Dec. 19, 2011, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 and so declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl Child.

The day is focused on working toward empowering girls.

The resolution identifies that “empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for … the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community.”

  • Ewelina U. Ochab is a legal researcher, human rights advocate, doctoral candidate and author of the book “Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East” and more than 30 U.N. reports. She works on the topic of the persecution of minorities around the world.
  • This piece was republished from Forbes with permission.
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