Filmmakers: Najibullah Quraishi and Jamie Doran

Kunduz in northern Afghanistan is the country's fifth largest city and home to more than 300,000 people.


It's fine to go to madrasa to learn about sharia,
the Quran and Islam. But beyond that, they keep girls in total darkness like the blind. They keep them illiterate.

Zargul Azimi, teacher

It was once a Taliban stronghold where women were deprived of their basic rights and education for girls was prohibited.

Today, particularly in towns and cities, women can go outside without their husbands or fathers, they can work, and girls can attend school and even university.

But with a new wave of privately run madrasas - or religious schools - being opened across the country, there is a growing feeling among women's rights groups that these freedoms are again under threat.

There are now 1,300 unregistered madrasas in Afghanistan, where children are given only religious teaching.

This is increasing fears among those involved in mainstream education.

Arguably the most controversial of these madrasas is Ashraf-ul Madares in Kunduz, founded by two local senior clerics, where 6,000 girls study full time.

The girls attend the madrasa solely to study the Quran and the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. They are taught by male teachers, who they are forbidden from meeting face-to-face, and full hijab must be worn.

In The Girls of the Taliban, our cameras gain unprecedented access to film inside this madrasa, to meet with the girls and their families and to question the men behind it.

Source: Al Jazeera