The following is an excerpt from an interview with the principal of the Shuhada Girls’ High School in Bamyan City.
What are the main challenges women and girls face in Bamyan?
Women have many problems – but their main problem is lack of education. This leads to them not knowing about their rights, and leads to health problems. Conservative or traditional husbands sometimes prevent women from going to hospitals for childbirth. When women have their children at home, this leads to a lot of health problems because they haven’t been taken care of. Also – forced marriage is a major problem for girls here. When girls are forced to marry, or marry at a very young age, they have a difficult time physically and emotionally. They have health problems and have a lot of difficulties coping with their new mother-in-law and families. Women in Bamyan have many problems, but these are their main problems.
What do you think of the international community’s presence in Afghanistan?
We thank the international community for their help with security in other parts of Afghanistan. Security is good in Bamyan, though, because of the people of Bamyan. Security depends on people. The people of Bamyan have made Bamyan secure – not the international community.
The Afghan government and the international community have to justify the amount of money and development projects coming into Afghanistan. A lot of money is going to places that do not deserve it. There are 34 provinces in Afghanistan but a lot of provinces are not getting any money. Bamyan is getting very little money compared to the rest of the country – even though it is one of the safest parts of Afghanistan. Bamyan has had very little reconstruction over the past 9 years; it has had a lot of problems with education, water systems, clinics, and health. The international community should pay more attention to Bamyan.