During an interview with Bloomberg news, Afghan women musicians put across their concerns and thoughts about music in their lives and the danger the return of the Taliban poses on them. Not long ago when the Taliban ruled, they had imposed several restrictions on women. Women could not go to school, women could not leave the house without a male escort and nor could women indulge in music.

During the period 1996 to 2001, Taliban brutally ruled over Afghanistan. They had imposed several rules, which restrained women from exercising their rights. Women could not go to school, women could not indulge in music nor could women leave the house without a male escort.

In contrast to that situation, women in Afghanistan today are performing music and have gained popularity across the globe. Zohra is Afghanistan’s first all women orchestra.

This fame, however, does not cut the threat they still face from the Taliban.

During their performance in Kabul, in February, fear from the Taliban was high. All 700 attendees had to go through many security checks. There were 10 check stations with armed men and dogs. Notably this was just after they returned from their tour of the U.K. and Sweden, where all their tickets were sold out. All of these young artists received a lot of praise, and showed the world that they are no less than any of their counterparts from any part of the world. Their level of commitment merged with their talent as it defied all odds.

Being a musician has had its own negatives for these girls because of being from where they belong. Many of them have had to end contact with their families, few have had to leave their homes, few have been shunned from society. But for them, all of this is acceptable. They just don’t want anyone to take away what they are truly passionate about, and that is music. They have gone against all odds, and will continue to do so.

They fear that during the peace between the USA and the Taliban, women’s rights will be sidelined. They feel that, the USA may use women’s rights as a medium of negotiation for peace.

The biggest fear that these women artists have is that women’s rights will be sidelined  during the peace talks between the USA and the Taliban. In such a scenario, Gul Mina, a violinist from the orchestra, says, “If the Taliban comes back, it might be a great danger for us. Their return could be a huge disaster to our lives and musical works.”

Negin Khpwak, Afghanistan’s first female conductor, and the leader of the all women’s orchestra, in an interview said “They can break our instruments, they can ban our music, but they never can take away from our hearts.”

“They can break our instruments, they can ban the music, but they can never take it away from our hearts.”

Negin Khpwak, a 22-year-old has had to push many boundaries to persuade her family to allow her to pursue a career in music. She believes that with music their band can bring “freedom, peace and honour to Afghanistan.”

Just like Negin Khpwak, there are several girls, who want to be musicians when they grow up. However, all of them fear the return of the Taliban, along with their restrictions that women stay at home.

Just like her, there are several girls wanting to be musicians when they grow up. However, all of them fear the return of the Taliban, along with their restrictions that women stay at home. Ahmad Naser Sarmast, Founder and Director, Afghanistan National Institute of Music, said that his office has musicians portraits hung and trophies kept safely. He believes that the new generation will not allow the Taliban to come and turn the wheel of history backward. Notably, Sarmust has himself survived a Taliban bombing in 2014.

Negin also said that, despite being in an Islamic country, she and the other women will fight against the Taliban, to follow their passion and be a ray of hope for all the other aspiring musicians in Afghanistan!

Read also: Angelina Jolie Calls For The Inclusion Of Women In Afghan Peace Talks

Kavya Shah is an intern at SheThePeople.Tv

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