Afghan women who work, like this baker in Badakhshan, have a shot at a better life for themselves and their children.

Women in Afghanistan are often like disabled beings. When women speak, their tongues are cut. Women raise their hands and their hands are cut off. Women walk and they are trapped. Women are humiliated, derided and abused.

This is the position of women across all of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is like jungle where wild animals attack and eat the weak. Is a woman safe in Afghanistan? No!

Let me tell you some short stories about girls and women in Afghanistan.

Just a few months ago, we had a new neighbor, a small family of three. They had one young son named Obaid. We knew that the husband, Zabi, was beating his wife, Zobaida. At first we thought that he just had a problem with his wife. But then we saw he was hitting his son until he cried. When Zobaida complained, Zabi would say, “If you complain against me I will divorce you.” After three months they moved away but before they left Zobaida came to our house to say goodbye.

She said to me and my sisters: “You should always study to become an independent person in your life and you should not depend on a man. If my mother had sent me to school and if I were an educated woman today I would not tolerate these difficulties.” She was crying, and she left with tears in her eyes.

In Afghanistan it is difficult for any woman to raise her voice and get her rights, especially an uneducated woman like Zobaida. Even in my own school just a few weeks ago the biology teacher struck two of the girls for making a mistake. One of my classmates was asking her partner, Sosan, a question. The teacher heard it, got up and slapped them on their faces. The next day Sosan’s ear still hurt and she complained about the teacher for slapping her and then the teacher claimed Sosan was lying.

“I did not slap your face. You are saying a lie. You are a lazy student. You will not do well on exams and you will fail.” After that, Sosan sat crying in her chair. Because of things like this, no one wants to complain.

But at least we can go to school. I knew another girl named Fatima who was so eager to study but her family would not allow her to go to school. She was allowed to leave home only to go to the mosque. It makes me sad. She said to me one day, “You have this opportunity to go school and study instead of me.”

Women in Afghanistan cannot even speak their hearts to a family member. As I write now about the problems of women in Afghanistan, my hand trembles. My writing becomes sloppy for fear that one day I will be blamed because I write. Women tremble each time they leave their homes, their heads down, like a criminal.

Every woman who tries to stand up for women’s right to education, employment and equal treatment will leave her home trembling and fearful every day. And then, when she is violated, society will blame her and she will be convicted and jailed. Everyone will wish her dead, and she will regret ever trying to stand up for her rights.

My brave and strong women of Afghanistan raise your heads and your voices and defend your rights. Raise your pens and fill out your job applications, stand up against beastly men and send them through the justice system. Make society aware of the existence of the power of women.