Latest News

In Afghanistan, Women Are Facing An Unthinkable, Devastating Reality

As the Taliban close in on the capital, thousands of women are being banned from basic education and losing their jobs.

Women in Afghanistan face an unthinkable peril as the Taliban close in on capital city, Kabul. 

The Taliban began its takeover shortly after the US confirmed its decision to withdraw troops from the country after 20 years. That marked two decades of immense progression for women who traditionally faced a lifetime of confinement. Under Taliban rule, divorce was unthinkable, women were shunned and education was reserved only for men. 

But when the Taliban government was overthrown, things changed. Education for girls became possible, so too did marriage on their own terms. And more than anything else, women had freedoms without fear of abandonment, they did not need male “guardians” to be allowed to leave their houses and feel safe in a functioning society. 

Now, as president as Ashraf Ghani flees the country after the Taliban takeover of Kabul, that terrifying former reality is now threatening women once again. 

What’s more, there’s a whole new generation that have grown up over the past 20 years without knowing what life is like under a Taliban regime—unthinkable unknowns await.

(Credit: Getty)

Pakistani activist Malala has shared her distress for the women of Afghanistan, Tweeting overnight: “We watch in complete shock as Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates. Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect refugees and civilians.” 

Her words ring true. In Afghanistan, female High School students now worry they may never graduate, women who have been divorced now fear to leave their homes without a male guardian, women in leadership roles fear for their jobs (and their livelihoods). 

Speaking to the US-based NBC News, Nasreen Sultani, who is a principal of a girls school in Kabul, was in despair. 

“I am very sad. When I see all these girls, I get really upset now,” she said.

“I tried, but we couldn’t manage to make sure that women get out of this miserable situation.” 

She has been threatened, told to live in fear by the Taliban previously, with them telling her things like “You all might die”. But Sultani had one objective: “Keep the girls motivated for their good and motivate them to study”. 

Now, that progress that has allowed her girls school and many others to reopen and operate successfully is coming undone. 

Member of the Afghan Delegation and womens rights activist Fawzia Koofi said women felt “betrayed”. 

“Women in Afghanistan are the most at danger or most at-risk population of the country,” she stated. 

To add, the Taliban have freed “criminals”, Koofi called them. They pose another terrifying threat to the safety of women. 

And reports of the Taliban going door to door “seizing” girls as young as 12 to wed their soldiers is another shocking threat faced by women and their children.

(Credit: Getty)

Per The Guardianwho spoke with two sisters living north of Kabul, they, and many others are alone. Their parents died shortly after the Taliban fell, and their brother died in a car accident.

They summed up the situation right now: “We have nowhere to go, no money to spend, we cannot even afford to pay another month’s rent. Every night, the fear of the Taliban entering our house keeps us awake.” 

Related stories