Since 7th grade, I have attended an all-girls' school that has promoted feminism and intellectual growth. My environment outside of school has been an academic one as well; I am a reader of the news and have always considered myself an informed citizen. Yet, it was only after the fatal events of September 11 that I began to learn about the atrocities of the Afghan women. In October and November, political figures like Laura Bush and Vladimir Putin filled the news media and airways with speeches about women under the Taliban. Cherie Blair and Colin Powell took a similar stand on saving the Afghan women. However, the Taliban came into power in 1996, which means that women who had once been physicians, teachers, and government workers, had been living under inhuman conditions for five years. I had to ask myself why I had not known of this before September 11.
I was shocked to learn that for five years Afghan women had been beaten, had had body parts amputated, and had been killed for things my peers and I did everyday. Women under the Taliban had been forbidden to express themselves in any manner. They were forced to wear a heavy burka, while the women in my world, a private all-girls' school in suburban Massachusetts, dressed however they wish, whether they were sleepy boarders still in their pajamas when school started or the clothes-conscious who wore the latest fashions from Express, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Under the Taliban, even singing had been a crime; yet, here in the U.S, every Thursday my voice teacher told me, "Drop your jaw a little more! Show more expression in your singing! " Finally, in defiance of the Taliban, some Afghan women had run underground schools for girls in their homes. These women had put their lives in danger to educate themselves, while I occasionally took my education for granted and, during finals, might even have viewed it as a source of stress. .
These were terrible facts to learn but what seemed even worse to me was the five years of silence from world leaders who were now so vocal.