Female Afghan official shot dead on International Human Rights Day

Nadia Sediqqi, the acting head of the Women’s Affairs Department in Laghman province, Afghanistan, was shot to death on her way to work on Monday. She had only been in the position for five months. Her predecessor was killed last July when a bomb that had been attached to her car exploded (Voice of America).

The fact that Sediqqi was assassinated on International Human Rights Day shows just how dire the situation is for girls and women in Afghanistan. While females did gain some basic rights following the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, these gains are in jeopardy as the current government, led by President Hamid Karzai, is seeking peace talks with the violent and oppressive group (Yahoo News).

At the very moment that Sediqqi lost her life, girls and women gathered in Kabul at an Afghan Women’s Writing Project, imagining what it would be like to actually experience a day dedicated to the equality of human rights for all. This group of women and girls did not yet know that one of their own, a woman who had dared to make a difference, had been killed on this day dedicated to the celebration of human rights. Instead they were busy voicing their hopes and fears for the future of girls in Afghanistan:

“I wake early this morning, make a black tea, eat corn cake
for breakfast. On my table, the calendar open. Today
is the 10th of December, such a special day. I think deeply—
celebrate Human Rights, here and everywhere.
How delicious this cake. A beautiful morning, I say.

I am an Afghan girl.
How sweet the taste of this word, freedom.

The sky is a new color, bright for spring.
I will reach that sky, fly, be the messenger, spread the word
of the Afghan girl. I will see this day, a bird of peace soaring
in equality. The promise of it is so sweetly blue. Sweet like pie.

I go outside, hear the sound of the wind, feel its song, sung for me—
the best tomorrow is on its way. I will celebrate, such great meaning for us.
I will be part of a society in which I belong—belong will be a common word
for every woman and girl.

Human Rights Day. I celebrate.

But in the distance, I hear the voice of the suicide bomb.
It saddens me. I cannot celebrate now, cannot taste sweetness
until no people suffer, no warlord attacks, no terrorist kills.

I must share all women’s pain in the world, with the world.

When humans know the worth of it, life will taste as sweet as happiness.
When humans know not the worth of it, life tastes bitter as sorrow.

Meaningless words—freedom, equality, rights not practiced.
Laws forbid it. Violence repeats.
We say these words: Equal rights for men and women.
They are not here—our hands so empty without love for ourselves.

I work and wait. The sun will shine; the sky will be clean and lovely.
No one will cry about anything.
I will feel proud because I am free.

I am a girl, an Afghan girl” (Kabul Writers).

Keep speaking. Keep writing. Keep lifting your voices until the world listens.

Diane DeBella

As a writer, teacher, and speaker Diane has spent over twenty years examining women’s issues. She is the author of the collective memoir *I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Our Selves*, and editor of the anthology *I Am Subject Stories: Women Awakening*. As a long-time faculty member at the University of Colorado, she received the CU Women Who Make a Difference Award and the CU-LEAD Alliance Faculty Appreciation Award. Through her organization I Am Subject, Diane helps us understand how we—as women—are impacted by the society in which we live. By claiming ourselves as subjects of our own lives, we become empowered and also provide strong role models for other women and girls. In healing ourselves we help others—a beautiful way for women to create nurturing, supportive communities.

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