On August 15, 2021, a large portrait of a woman was painted in a beauty salon in Kabul after news spread that the Taliban had entered the capital. Photo: Kyodo via AP Images.
A day after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and chaos erupted, the streets were quieter. Many offices, stores and universities were closed on Monday, and many residents – especially women – chose to stay at home.
The Taliban promised that women would reserve the right to work and go to school, but the question is what is right about that.
“I’ve had a good and beautiful life,” a 22-year-old college student told VICE. “I went to work, played sports, and did my job without any worries.” Now she’s not sure if she can pursue a master’s degree in political science or keep going to the gym – which she calls “the only fun thing in my life.”
But that’s the least of her worries. “I’m afraid I’ll be captured, forced to live and raped—I’m afraid all the efforts of the past 20 years have been in vain,” she says. Living under the Taliban was a very bad thing. You never know what will happen.”
A 27-year-old Afghan journalist understands the student’s concerns. She fears that her life will change dramatically and that they will return to the “dark age” of the former Taliban regime, which ended about twenty years ago.
“I am afraid that they will limit women’s rights and freedom of expression,” said the 27-year-old journalist. “I am very concerned for all the women who have worked so hard and made progress. They have achieved things for themselves, but also for the country.”
Especially the women who spoke out against the Taliban have a lot to fear. A national sportswoman and women’s rights advocate said she was worried about what the Taliban would do to her. “They’re right in front of my house right now,” she told VICE. “I can’t go out, but I know I’m not safe inside either. They will kill me because they don’t like women like me.”
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until it was overthrown in 2001 by the Northern Alliance (an Afghan military force) and the United States. The Islamic group also prevented girls from going to school and women from working or playing sports, and music, films and television were also banned. The Taliban have been accused of numerous human rights violations: stoning and amputation are fairly common punishments due to their strict interpretation of Sharia.
in a meeting with BBC Taliban spokesman, Sohail Shaheen, said the women had nothing to worry about: “They can live their lives normally. They have the right to education and work. We have committed to that.” He also indicated that the Taliban would not retaliate.
The Taliban has just occupied the city, but changes have already begun. Because for many Afghans Difficult is getting out of the country – thousands of people were queuing for passports on Monday, and chaos ensued at Kabul airport with Multiple deaths Fallen – women are hiding in the house en masse. In shops and beauty salons, pictures of women were removed from the wall. Religious programs appeared on television, despite Shaheen’s insistence that freedom of expression be respected. At press time, a few news programs are still on the air.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have occupied territory and taken over major cities – and now the entire country – at a murderous pace. And that has everything to do with the fact that American troops are coming home after 20 years.
Feel a lot of women Betray by the United States. “When the American forces were still in Afghanistan, everyone could lead a normal life,” said the 27-year-old journalist. “But when they left, all the uncertainty came back.”
The 22-year-old student wants people outside Afghanistan to know how bad the situation is for women. It is asking the international community and the United States not to look away from what is happening now. “Other countries should not let people die because of their policies,” she says. “What a woman has achieved should not be denied.”
This article originally appeared on VICE World News. For security reasons, the names of the sources have been hidden.
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