Taliban Arrests Prominent Afghan Girls' Education Activist in Kabul

    Taliban Arrests Prominent Afghan Girls' Education Activist in Kabul
    Last updated Mar 28, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Tuesday that the well-known advocate for girls' education, Matiullah Wesa, was detained a day earlier in Kabul, urging the Taliban-appointed authorities to clarify his whereabouts and the reason for his arrest.[1]
    • The founder of the PenPath charity was reportedly arrested after coming out of a mosque, and his house was raided, becoming the latest women's education activist to be detained in Afghanistan. His brothers were also briefly detained and then released with a warning.[2]
    • An anonymous senior Taliban official reportedly confirmed that Wesa was in custody, claiming his arrest was related to his work and meetings with "Westerners" — likely referring to his gatherings with EU officials in Belgium and UN officials and foreign diplomats in Kabul.[3]
    • The Taliban took over Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the US-led coalition in August 2021. Since then, it has closed secondary schools for teenage girls and barred women from attending university.[4]
    • Wesa has repeatedly urged the Taliban to reverse its bans, demanding girls have the right to go to school and learn. During the past 18 months, PenPath has carried out a door-to-door campaign to fight illiteracy and promote girls' education.[5]
    • His non-profit group travels across the country with a mobile school and library. In 2018, he was awarded the Meer Bacha Khan medal, one of Afghanistan's highest national civilian honors, by then-Pres. Ashraf Ghani for his campaign work.[6]


    Republican narrative

    The current attacks on girls' and women's rights in Afghanistan are a direct result of the Biden administration's disastrous decision to withdraw from the country. His administration may pontificate about women's rights, but it has no way of enforcing them without troops on the ground.

    Democratic narrative

    While US involvement in Afghanistan saw significant gains for women's rights, the fact that Afghan security forces collapsed so quickly following its withdrawal indicates that the yields weren't sustainable without an indefinite US presence, which itself wasn't sustainable or realistic.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 25% chance that the US will recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Articles on this story

    Sign up to our newsletter!