Co-founder of all-girls Afghan school burns her students' records amid dread

Published on Aug 22, 2021 11:45 AM IST

In a series of tweets, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who is also the president of School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), said her aim was not to erase them , but ensure safety of all.

A video grab of the principal setting ablaze to all documents of her students that she said was for their safety. (Twitter@sbasijrasikh)
A video grab of the principal setting ablaze to all documents of her students that she said was for their safety. (Twitter@sbasijrasikh)
By | Written by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi

The co-founder of Afghanistan’s lone all-girls boarding school has set afire to all documents of her students as she sought to protect them and her families in the wake of renewed fears of persecution following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the fall of the West-backed elected government, led by Ashraf Ghani.

Sharing a series of tweets along with a clipping of burning down the records, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who is also the principal of School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), said her aim was not to erase them , but ensure safety of all.

Recounting a personal experience, she said in March 2002, after the fall of Taliban, thousands of Afghan girls were invited to go to the nearest public school to participate in a placement test “because the Taliban had burned all female students’ records to erase their existence. I was one of those girls”.

Also read | Taliban attack women, children at Kabul airport despite peace promise: Report

She further said her desire to invest in the education of Afghan girls who have no way to leave the war-torn country only grew louder and stronger even as the world focussed on desperate measures being adopted by panic-driven residents to escape the Taliban, known for their brutal imposition of a regressive version of the Sharia law during their previous rule when girls and women’s rights were among the worst hit.

“My students, colleagues, and I are safe with enormous gratitude to our ever vibrant global village. The time to appropriately express my gratitude will come. But right now there are many who aren’t or increasingly don’t feel safe. I’m broken & devastated for them,” she further wrote.

Also read | Under Taliban, Afghanistan is the address of global jihad

“I’m making this statement to mainly reassure the families of our students whose records we burned and our supporters of our safety. As I focus on the safety and well-being of my students, I don’t plan on making any further comments,” she added.

She also shared a link seeking donations for her school SOLA, which means peace in Pashto.

While the Islamic militant group has repeatedly promised a different kind of rule to their brutal regime of the 1990s that saw women confined to their homes, most entertainment banned, and punishments including stonings and public executions, there is immense scepticism so far over the pledge to respect progress made in women's rights (but only according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law).

Also read | Afghan women set afire for 'bad cooking', used as sex slaves by Taliban: Lawyer

Several nations, including the the United States and United Kingdom, have said they would closely monitor how any future government in Afghanistan was ensuring the rights that became an integral part of women and girls over the past 20 years.


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