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Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Law banning wives in the classroom is being enforced again (IWPR)
One of the most disturbing things I've heard in a while.
Wives Face School Ban; Enforcement of old law banning married women
from the classroom sets back female education cause.
By IWPR contributors in Kabul
(ARR No. 80, 05-Nov-03)
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Thousands of young Afghan women have been expelled from school simply
because they are married.
It's a big blow for female students, who had been denied the right to
be educated under the hard-line Taleban regime, and hoped for more
opportunities under the transitional administration.
A mid-70s law stating that married women cannot attend high school
classes was upheld in September by President Hamed Karzai's
government - and the education ministry has ordered all regions to
enforce this rule.
Deputy education minister Sayed Ahmad Sarwari, told IWPR that he
didn't know the exact number of women who've been expelled, but that
it was "possibly more than two or three thousand".
After the Taleban were overthrown, one of the first signs that the
authorities were putting the past behind them was the reopening of
girls schools – and while the law on married women remained it was
Supporters of the legislation say it protects unmarried girls in
school from hearing "tales of marriage" - in other words, explicit
details about sex - from their wedded classmates.
Orders from the central authorities usually take months to be put
into force but some regions are complying already.
Khurshid, one of those recently banished from classes in Kapisa, a
province just north of Kabul, told IWPR, "We thought that after the
fall of the Taleban, the government would give priority to education,
but unfortunately they are taking us towards a great darkness - the
administrators have expelled us from school.
"We are very disappointed. Why expel us from school at a time when we
are at the end of our education? … We were told that because we were
married we should leave school. On the day we were expelled all of us
Mohammad Anwar, the principal of Ushtergram High School in Kapisa,
explained that he was merely doing the government's bidding, "We
expelled these pupils according to the orders of the education
Although married women are not permitted to attend classes, they are
still allowed to sit their final exams.
"We still give them the opportunity to… gain their certificates,"
Sarwari told IWPR.
"We recently excluded more than one hundred women from a high school
in Kabul, but we helped those students take the exam which is a
privilege for them."
But this is of little compensation to women who had hoped that after
the dark years of the Taleban they would be granted the right to go
to school, irrespective of their marital status.
Zakia Zaki, headmistress of Jebulo Seraj Girls' High School in the
Parwan province, said, "Even though excluded women are few in
Parwanan, these women…were very intelligent..[and]..they say that
they would prefer not to have the grade and the certificate without
Khalida, a former pupil in the northern Balkh province, said, " I
didn't know that if I got married this would happen, otherwise I
might have got married after my education.
"I was married during the Taleban because schools were not open for
women. Now I am told I can take an exam, but how can I? After all the
years I have stayed at home, I have forgotten everything!"
Fahima Hadi, principal of Marim High School in Kabul, said some of
her pupils were "so afraid they will be expelled from school they are
now refusing to get married".
Women's affairs minister Habiba Surabi told IWPR she sympathised with
married female students and suggested that the authorities would do
more to address their needs.
"In the past we had a different educational resource for married
women, a society called Mermana Tolana [Women's Association] where
they could study," she said.
"We are currently developing government-approved professional high
schools [for married women] in four provinces, but they have not yet
been inaugurated because of financial problems.
"However, these students should apply to us and we will try to do
what we can."
Elsewhere, international NGOs are also doing their best to better the
plight of Afghanistan's lost generation of pupils, setting up
literacy classes for girls who could not attend schools. But these
classes, too, have been banned by religious leaders.
One literacy centre student, who wished to remain anonymous, said
some of the female students "are confronting a lot of problems. Local
religious scholars prevent us from education and threaten our
fathers, saying they must not send their daughters to school. But we
want to be educated.
"Most of my [classmates] were not permitted to study even though our
teachers were female. We don't see any religious problem here so we
must defend our rights because Allah has given us the right to learn."
Reflecting the views of these critics, Mawlawi Abdul Haq, one of the
ulema in the regions, insisted that women should be denied
education "because Allah says in the holy Quran that women should at
stay home and not expose their beauty".
At the literacy centres, the girls may be seen by male strangers
visiting the classes, he said.
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.