Afghanistan's Top High School Graduate, Who Hoped to Be a Doctor, Fears for Her Future

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Salgy Baran got the highest people successful each of Afghanistan connected her assemblage entranceway exams this year, but she has nary answers for what comes next.

The 18-year-old wants to enactment and go a doctor, but arsenic with truthful galore different Afghans, those plans were plunged into uncertainty erstwhile the Taliban rolled into the superior of Kabul earlier this month, capping their stunning takeover of the country.

Taliban leaders accidental women and girls volition beryllium capable to be schoolhouse and enactment successful accordance with Islamic instrumentality — without providing specifics — adjacent arsenic different salient members of the militant radical person sneered astatine the thought of coed classrooms and hinted astatine much reactionary measures.

“I americium not acrophobic close now, but I americium acrophobic astir my future," Baran told The Associated Press successful a video interrogation from Kabul. “Will they let maine to get an acquisition oregon not?”

The Taliban accidental the wide evacuation of foreigners and Afghans fearful of their regularisation indispensable extremity connected Aug. 31, the day the U.S. acceptable for withdrawing its past troops aft 20 years of war. They person accused Western countries of luring distant doctors, engineers and different professionals whose skills volition beryllium needed to rebuild the war-ravaged country.

If that's the case, they should anticipation Baran stays.

She grew up successful a middle-class household successful rural, eastbound Afghanistan, wherever aesculapian attraction is inactive lacking contempt 2 decades of planetary improvement aid. When she was 7, her diabetic begetter died aft a doc gave him an overdose of insulin, she said.

That made her privation to beryllium the benignant of doc who doesn't marque mistakes.

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The household moved to Kabul successful 2015, wherever determination are less societal restrictions connected women. Her household pooled their resources to enactment her studies. They picture her arsenic a quiescent kid who would walk agelong hours speechmaking and studying math.

This year's exams — Afghanistan's mentation of the SAT — were held earlier the takeover. She got the highest people of anyone successful the country, retired of astir 174,000 boys and girls, according to the National Examination Authority. That secured her a spot astatine the Kabul University of Medical Sciences, the country's apical schoolhouse of medicine.

An full procreation of Afghan women person benefited from the Western-backed bid established aft the 2001 U.S.-led penetration drove the Taliban from power.

When the militants past ruled the country, women were forbidden to be schoolhouse oregon enactment extracurricular the home. They could lone spell extracurricular if accompanied by a antheral relative, and adjacent past they had to deterioration the all-encompassing burqa.

Progress since 2001 has been incremental and mostly confined to municipality areas. The U.N. children's bureau estimates that 3.7 cardinal Afghan children are retired of school, 60% of them girls, and 17% of girls are forced into matrimony earlier their 15th birthday.

But connected the eve of the Taliban takeover, girls were attending school, peculiarly successful Kabul and different cities, and women could beryllium recovered successful parliament, authorities and business. Many fearfulness the Taliban volition rotation backmost the clock.

Abdul Baqi Haqqani, a Taliban authoritative supervising higher education, said women volition beryllium capable to proceed their studies successful “proper facilities,” without elaborating. But different Taliban official, Mohammad Khalid, addressing a league of Muslim clerics earlier this week, expressed disgust astatine the thought of boys and girls studying successful the aforesaid classroom.

Interpretations of Sharia, oregon Islamic law, alteration wide crossed the Muslim world, but successful astir countries, women enactment and survey comparatively freely. The Taliban could simply necessitate a Muslim headscarf oregon importune connected abstracted classrooms for boys and girls.

But nary 1 truly knows — not yet.

Baran and her household person nary contiguous plans to articulation the exodus of Afghans, but they are disquieted astir what comes next.

“I had goals nether the past government, I had planned everything retired for respective years,” she said. “But nether this government, I can't accidental anything. Even time is uncertain.”


Akhgar reported from Istanbul and Krauss from Jerusalem.

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