How much more ordeal can Afghans take ?
Afghans have been suffering for decades and the year 2021 has not been an easy one as well. In the first five months alone, more than 2000 Afghans were killed. There were unending attacks in schools, Mosque, on the roadside, cars, buses and on Government forces. At least 200 Government forces and 70 civilians were killed each month in the first four months. Taliban forcefully took over 19 districts. 2.5 million Afghans had to flee the country and take refuge in other countries, mostly in Europe.
In the month of April, US President Joe Biden announced that remaining US troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn. There was an increase in attacks by the Taliban and it has led to increase in violence. Then, in the dead of the night, US military left the key base, Bagram Airfield, without informing the Afghanistan Government.
As if the struggles were not enough, 3rd wave of Covid which is more contagious and deadlier than ever hit the country in July. Even though death due to Covid was not the main concern and Taliban being the main threat, still many lives, economy and future livelihood were affected with more than 96,000 cases of Covid during that time. Hospitals had to shut their doors to new patients due to insufficient bed and oxygen supply. Adding to that, there were internally displaced persons due to conflict in the country and drought straining the Government’s ability to provide even basic supply.
Women and girls in Afghanistan are affected the most; the struggles that they are facing will take lifetime to be reversed. Mental, psychological and physical tortures on Afghan women are beyond any human can endure. Girls struggle to get basic rights to education. 100s of girls’ schools were closed and destroyed during Taliban’s last rule, two decades ago, teachers were abducted and many school girls were killed.
Health crisis of Afghan women is even worse. Afghan women have 4.6 medical doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 women. They struggle to access medical care due to cost for transportation, lack of facilities and medical supplies. Violation of women to even take care of their own affairs, lack of attention to their health by their own families, domestic violence against women from the culture of patriarchy and illiteracy among women causes grave crisis in women’s health.
Study shows that at least 87% of Afghan women have experienced some form of economic discrimination, physical, psychological, sexual or social violence.
With the Taliban’s successful power grab and the quick collapse of the official Afghan Government, the world now fears the worst for Afghan women.
Will the Taliban keep their end of the bargain of respecting women’s rights as promised ?
A little more than two decades ago the world witnessed extreme violence, bloodshed and total ignorance of human rights against women under the Taliban, all in the name of the ‘Sharia law’ which in Arabic means “The way.” It acts as a code of living, that all Muslims should stick to, which includes prayers, fasting and donations to the poor, basically every aspect of their lives. The Taliban are known for their extremely strict, inflexible interpretations of the “Sharia law.”
Under the previous Taliban rule, the word “women” had no place in the society. Women were put under house arrest as they were not allowed to work or have an education. Any female above the age of eight had to wear a burqa and had to be escorted by a male relative if they wanted to leave their home.
Women were not allowed to wear high-heeled shoes as no man should hear a woman’s footsteps. A woman’s voice should not be heard by a stranger when she is speaking in public. Photographing, filming or even displaying pictures of females in newspapers, books shops or at home was prohibited.
Women who broke the rules were made an example of the cruel consequences; they were dragged, beaten mercilessly on the street and sometimes executed as formal spectacles in town squares and sports stadiums just to get their point across.
Let us not shy away from the examples of the extreme brutality for they have paid a heavy price and each scar is a reminder of why they shouldn't go through hell again. A woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish. A woman was killed by Taliban militants for not wearing a head covering. A girl had her ears and nose severed and was left for dead after running away from an arranged marriage. A woman was killed for wearing tight clothing and not being accompanied by a male relative.
When a Taliban raid discovered a woman running an informal school in her apartment, they beat the children and threw the woman down a flight of stairs (breaking her leg) and then imprisoned her. They threatened to stone her family publicly if she refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Taliban and their laws.
This is just a couple of incidents during years of Taliban rule. So when they make fake promises it’s actually thousands of women and children that are going to pay the price and not to mention, for most of them, this is not their first. It’s not fair that any of them should go through it again.
Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid in a press conference assured respect of women’s rights “They would be allowed to work and study and be active in society, but within the framework of Islam.” So what does it really mean? We can somehow understand from the statement, the fate of women in Afghanistan now solely lies on how the Taliban interpret the Sharia law.
Taliban said it wanted more women to join its Government but the confidence in the statement was shot down following its recent plans to end mixed-gender education and the recent incident where nine female bank employees were escorted home and were told that their male relatives could take their places. It's just the beginning. These incidents are a clear proof of the lack of credibility and the false promises with significant hints that this time wouldn’t be so different after all.
"I went to the airport, when I just arrived at the airport some of them, maybe about two or three of them came to me and they're carrying whips and lashes also they started to fire [into the air] on me and asked me 'where is your Mahram ?' [Male guardian] and 'why are you alone? The situation was so scary. Like a nightmare. Like a horror movie", narrated an Afghani woman.
With Taliban blocking all the borders crossing, Kabul airport remained the only means to escape. At least seven people were confirmed to have lost their life during the airport evacuation. Recently Taliban closed the road to Kabul airport to prevent evacuation. Two days ago, two powerful blasts shook the crowds near the southern wall of the Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, killing masses of Afghan civilians. Death toll reportedly rose to 170.
How much more suffering can the Afghans take ? What are the National leaders in our country doing to help them ? What can we do to help them? Why can’t we care more ?
STOP KILLING AFGHAN ! is a protest that on August 28, 2021, let’s show support and raise awareness stand in solidarity with the Afghanistan. We cannot ignore the fact that a country is suffering and the cries of the people are deafening. (Source: @theafghan , @BBCnews)