'I feel like I'm in a cage': Afghan girls on life at home under Taliban school ban

·2-min read

Since the Taliban overran Afghanistan, many girls have been forced to stay at home rather than attend class, as education under the group's rule is strictly segregated by gender.

Secondary schools are only for male students between the ages of 13 and 18 and are off-limits to girls and female teachers.

After years of education for a lot of young Afghan girls, the change has come as a cruel blow.

Radio Télévision Suisse visited a school in Kabul, which is almost entirely financed by donations from Switzerland.

The school normally has 600 pupils, but with the return of the Taliban it has seen girls and boys being split up and taught in separate classrooms, and girls only being allowed to attend primary school. In the upper classes, no girls are to be found anymore.

Watch: Female students protest in western Afghanistan

The school's headmaster, Reshad Attai, doesn't believe it will change anytime soon. "And it's a very bad signal for our country because half of society is cut off."

Zamila Yunus, the founder of the school, who runs a hair salon in Geneva, also has little hope.

"The girls have to study at home because they are girls. They all live in the same neighbourhood. They call the teacher almost every day and ask: 'when can we come back?'," Yunus said.

"But then the teacher says it is not possible at the moment. So they continue to study at home," she added.

The school's administrators are afraid of further visits by Taliban officials. They have already turned up twice, and the computer room has been converted into a prayer room.

"Their visits to the school are so stressful. I imagine myself facing them, and it scares me," joint-headteacher Yasamin Attai revealed.

Yasamin keeps in touch with the older schoolgirls and visits them in their homes.

When asked when was the last time she wore her school uniform. 15-year-old Brejnah tearfully explains that she now just has to sit at home and that she thinks girls will never be able to go to school again.

"It's been two months. I feel like I'm in a cage. Women might no longer have a place in Afghan society," she said.

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