Zahra M. an Iranian journalist and social activist who recently travelled to Afghanistan was interviewed live on SAT-7 PARS program Insiders to raise awareness of the current situation of women and girls in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Zahra’s words and our viewer’s testimonies are a stark reminder of the rights and freedom of girls being severely restricted in the country while the world marks International Day of the Girl Child today, on 11 October.

“The reason the Taliban is afraid of women is that when women become informed, the world becomes well informed,” shares Zahra M. an Iranian journalist and social activist on SAT-7 PARS program Insiders. “Women are the ones who give birth and raise children,” she continues to add, referring to Middle Eastern culture, in which women instil their values in their children at a young age. “One of the reasons they marry girls off at a young age is that a 12-year-old girl has no life experience and when she ends up under the roof of an older man she comes under his influence. She will never have the opportunity to think or to discover her own identity. The children she will raise will be just like herself and will be subject to the same life of limitations and perhaps humiliations.”

Lost freedoms and rights

Over the past twenty years, women in Afghanistan have fought hard to establish their position in society, becoming teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Maneli, a young woman in Afghanistan recently contacted the SAT-7 PARS Audience Relations team to share her story; “I grew up free of the Taliban and was educated and later married. Now, seeing the scenes and the treatment of women is beyond what I could imagine. It is not possible to live in this environment, especially for us who grew up during a time when the Taliban weren’t around.”

“They saw how it might be to live in freedom and to think freely,” Zahra says.

Sadly, women and girls in the country are now experiencing all those freedoms being taken away. “In a very short time, women who were in employment are now confined to their homes,” Zahra continues. “Seventh grade girls are being confined to their homes. These girls are 12 or 13 years old, and they are being sexualised in this way.” Unable to go to school and get an education, confined to their homes, young girls are losing the freedom and the tools to enable them to build their own futures. The education of young women in Afghanistan is also at risk.

“I personally went to universities and saw that they [the Taliban] have hung curtains to separate men and women. I spoke with women who were university lecturers, who were teachers, and they too are now confined to their homes. Even if we accept the separation of girls and boys at universities, and the idea that women teach girls and men teach boys, who will teach the girls when the female lecturers are forced to stay at home?” Zahra questions.

SAT-7: Hope, support, and prayer for Afghanistan

In addition to raising awareness of the situation of girls and women in Afghanistan through its live programs like Insiders, SAT-7 PARS’ children’s programs share God’s hope with young viewers. Dani, a young girl in Afghanistan reached out to the presenters of Hashtag, saying; “There is always war and fighting here. I really like your program. It makes me happy. I really like you, auntie Parastoo. I want you to be my friend. Will you be my friend?”

Through children’s programs Hashtag and Golpand, young viewers were united in prayer for their young brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. “Our Lord is Jesus Christ who answers our prayers,” says Naz, a young girl in Iran before she prays: “You are faithful and hear the Afghan people and answer them. Pour out Your healing everywhere, especially in the neighbouring nation of Afghanistan. You who hear the cry of the oppressed, grant Your help and uproot the oppressor from the world. In the name of the one and only Redeemer, Jesus Christ, come to the aid of Afghanistan and Iran; grant Your rescue to these two lands and pour out Your joy and wholeness on the peoples of these countries.”

SAT-7 PARS’ Audience Relations team is continuing to support viewers beyond SAT-7’s programming, responding to their questions, listening to their troubles and praying for them, and encouraging them. “I am very grateful that you are speaking with us and are giving us hope,” Maneli told the team after she shared her troubles with them. “Thank you again for listening to what I had to say. I hope that one day we will be free and able to make decisions for our own lives.”

Please pray

In her special vlog for International Day of the Girl Child, SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer calls for prayer:

“Please continue to pray for the children of Afghanistan, especially for the girl children who are facing such an unknown future. Pray for strength for their parents.

Let us pray for Afghan families who may have arrived in our countries to rebuild shattered lives. Let us welcome them – let them know the love of a Christian community so that we may give witness to Him and share his enduring message of hope and resurrection. Amen!”

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