Since the Taliban takeover, Human Rights Watch has documented 16 attacks against Hazaras that have killed and wounded at least 700 people. The September 30th attack on an educational center in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood of Kabul killed 53 and injured more than 110 people, all of whom were recent high school graduates. Girls and women were the primary victims. Days following the attack, the Taliban violently broke protests of women who were demonstrating against the targeted killings of Hazaras.
Although ISIS-K has taken responsibility for most of the attacks against Hazaras and minorities in Afghanistan, the Taliban has failed to protect religious and ethnic minorities.
According to an official from the learning center, about 600 students were taking a mock university entrance exam when gunmen entered the building. Per new rules of the Taliban, girls and boys sit separately, with classrooms often segregated by a curtain. The suicide attacker targeted the girls’ side, killing a majority of them.
Another recent attack on the Kaaj learning center, a private tutoring center, was the fourth targeting schools and learning centers in the Hazara neighborhood since 2018, leaving dozens killed and injured. The same center under another name, Mawoud Academy, was attacked in 2018, leaving 40 dead and 67 wounded.
With public schools being closed to girls, private schools and tutoring centers have become a lifeline for Afghan girls determined to continue their education. The academies and learning centers offer additional training and help in succeeding in school and entrance exams to universities. Students seeking extra help in these centers have dreams and hopes, but many of them will not be able to realize those dreams due to ongoing attacks and violent threats.
As many Afghan women predicted, since the Taliban takeover, the group has enforced many restrictions against women, depriving them of public education, employment, social and political participation, and equal opportunities to prosper. Millions of Afghan girls are banned by the Taliban authorities from attending schools beyond grade 6th. The Taliban, however, has not prevented women from pursuing higher education at the college level, although the regime recently limited what fields the girls can study. Despite these significant restrictions on women’s rights and equal opportunities, Afghan women and girls defiantly continue to fight for them. While these attacks are major setbacks, Afghan women continue to show determination and resilience in demanding their rights and status in society since the Taliban took power last year.