Yesterday, the news of the Taliban capturing Kabul after US forces withdrew from Afghanistan shocked the entire world to its core. Out of the innumerable things that people feared would happen next, the future of women and children particularly worried them.
In the 1990s, when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, women faced severe struggles. According to India Today, women’s universities were shut down, women were told to quit their jobs, cover themselves, were banned from stepping outside the house without a male escort, etc. Violent crimes against women were rampant.
It can be said that women under the Taliban rule had no rights, freedom, dignity, or hope. After the Taliban were ousted from Afghanistan in 2001 by US-led forces, women saw a bit of hope. In the past 20 years, women worked very hard to build an identity for themselves. They studied, got degrees, worked as journalists, teachers, doctors, filmmakers, etc. But now, they feel that all the work done over the past 2 decades has been wiped out.
Speaking to The Guardian, an Afghan woman said how she along with other female students were evacuated from their university, were threatened by Taliban fighters, and had to hide their degrees.
“I was heading to university when a group of women came running out from the women’s dormitory. One of them told me the police were evacuating them because the Taliban had arrived in Kabul, and they will beat women who do not have a burqa,” she said.
Thousands gathered at Kabul’s airport in an attempt to leave the country, after Afghanistan’s president left Sunday as Taliban forces entered the capital.
Many Afghans are trying to leave through land borders:
“I’m lost and I don’t know what to do. I left everything behind.” pic.twitter.com/XQRvQb4bn8
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 16, 2021
“I worked for so many days and nights to become the person I am today, and this morning when I reached home, the very first thing my sisters and I did was hide our IDs, diplomas and certificates. It was devastating. In Afghanistan now we are not allowed to be known as the people we are. Now it looks like I have to burn everything I achieved in 24 years of my life,” she added.
Another female Afghan journalist said, “For many years, I worked as a journalist…to raise the voice of Afghans, especially Afghan women, but now our identity is being destroyed and nothing has been done by us to deserve this.”
In a video, another woman was in tears and said, “They’re going to kill us.”
"I can't believe the world abandoned Afghanistan. Our friends are going to get killed. They (Taliban) are going to kill us. Our women are not going to have any more rights," says a woman who arrived in Delhi from Kabul.
Video Source: ANI.#Kabul #Afganistan pic.twitter.com/PLGwhGY6sh
— WeTheNagas (@WeTheNagas) August 16, 2021
A heartwrenching picture showing a man painting over posters of women went viral online.
— Lotfullah Najafizada (@LNajafizada) August 15, 2021
33-year-old Khatera was shot last year by the Taliban who mercilessly gouged her eyes out. News18 quoted her saying:
“In the eyes of Taliban, women are not living, breathing human beings, but merely some meat and flesh to be battered. They first torture us and then discard our bodies to show as specimens of punishment. Sometimes our bodies are fed to dogs. I was lucky that I survived it. One has to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban to even imagine what hell has befallen the women, children and minorities there.”
Many videos of women expressing their concern for their future went viral.
“We do not count because we were born in Afghanistan . . . We’ll die slowly in history.” I am heartbroken. The women & girls of Afghanistan have been abandoned. What of their dreams, hopes? The rights they have fought two decades for? #PrayforAfghanistan pic.twitter.com/Os6aSRv5RK
— Khaled Hosseini (@khaledhosseini) August 14, 2021
Women have gathered in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul city. They want Afghan women to be involved in politics, governance, and the economy.#Kabul #Afghanistan
(via @Shamshadnetwork) pic.twitter.com/FEaoFoq6ak
— Geeta Mohan گیتا موہن गीता मोहन (@Geeta_Mohan) August 17, 2021
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"HELPLESS, HOPELESS": Afghan nationals gather at the embassy in New Delhi, India, to share fears for their country, especially the situation for women, as the Taliban takes power in Kabul.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 17, 2021
— Kate Moody (@kateamoody) August 15, 2021
Afghanistan’s first female mayor, Zarifa Ghafari, said that she is waiting for the Taliban to come and kill her.
”I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There’s no one to help me or my family;they’ll come for people like me & kill me.” Chilling, heartwrenching words from the brave #ZarifaGhafari Afghanistan’s first female mayor. Everything feels trivial next to the cries of Afghan women pic.twitter.com/KMBCUa7USE
— Elif Shafak (@Elif_Safak) August 16, 2021
According to India Today, football players in the Afghanistan women’s national team are desperately seeking help. When they called Khalida Popal, former captain of the team, all she could do was ask them to flee and “erase their history”.
“I have been encouraging them to take down social media channels, take down photos, escape and hide themselves. That breaks my heart because of all these years we have worked to raise the visibility of women and now I’m telling my women in Afghanistan to shut up and disappear. Their lives are in danger,” she said.
This post from one of our players breaks my heart in a small piece. This is painful to see the dreams and hopes of Afghanistan women & girls are fading again. It's painful to witness that they are not allowed to dream again. They are stopped from dreaming. #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/rq6DkNvQbq
— Khalida Popal (@khalida_popal) August 15, 2021
Our heart goes out to the women and children of Afghanistan!