Afghan Women prepare for a fight back as Taliban unleash the fear of mutilation, horror and death after the takeover!
-‘Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Are they the women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their feminine attributes to defy the bad play of theocracy. Two women in the world stand out here!’
-‘The first is Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar and former politician. She received international attention as a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, actively opposing forced marriage, honor killing, child marriage and female genital mutilation. She has founded an organisation for the defense of women’s rights, the AHA Foundation. Ayaan Hirsi Ali works for the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.
The second is Azar Nafisi, an Iranian-American writer and professor of English literature. Born in Tehran, Iran, she has resided in the United States since 1997 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. She is the niece of famous Iranian scholar, fiction writer and poet Saeed Nafisi. Azar Nafisi is best known for her 2003 book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 117 weeks. There are many others in this list but they stand out for their robust literary action for the defense of rights of Muslim women’
-‘They came to her house thrice and knocked it three times in three days. The woman along with her 25 years old daughter and two sons was inside obviously scared to bits. The Taliban fighters were demanding food and the woman was too poor to feed fifteen of them. They came the fourth time and the vocabulary was repeated. The answer was the same but the reaction was menacing. The lady was beaten up in the head with rifle butts until she fell unconscious. One of the men in the group pulled out a grenade and hurled it inside the room and fled. The room was blown up, the lady dead and the children injured’. The incident happened in Faryab province of Afghanistan.
‘This anecdote is from Ghazni Province of Afghanistan. They shot her eight times in her upper body, stabbed her all over and pierced her eyes with knives. They then left her on the street to die. She was pregnant. The attack was conspired by none other than her own father who was a former Taliban fighter. The lady further revealed that they first torture women and then discard their bodies to show as specimen of punishment. Sometimes their bodies are fed to dogs. Only the fortunate survive but many die a gruesome death. Many Afghan women have gone to the extent of saying that they don’t just kill women. They make animals feed on their bodies. They are a blot on Islam. In the eyes of the Taliban, women are not living, breathing human beings, but merely some meat and flesh to be battered. Can a human being be so insane? This is barbaric and in this hatred for women can the man turned animal with the gun forget that he is standing and living because he too was produced by a mother? By the look of things it seems things are happening that way with no one to check’.
‘This incident took place in the year 2010 where a woman was rescued in Kunduz. In a remote northern village, a woman was about to be stoned to death after her husband accused her of adultery. The militants put her into a fenced compound for two days before the police swooped in and plucked her to safety. After the divorce she went to her father’s home where the Taliban would come day and night as unpaid guests. Unfortunately the whole area was controlled by the Taliban. When her father, along with other villagers got fed up with this because they were concerned that the government forces would quiz them on why they were feeding and supporting the Taliban, they told them to go to the mosque and they would provide food for them there. This angered the bearded fighters who seized the opportunity to turn on her and she knew what could be in offing, death was certain but how it would be delivered was the question. But the police came to know about this, they moved in and thus the gun fight began. They fought hard against the Taliban for two hours in order to rescue the woman and took her to a safe house where she will remain with her children. She continued her fight with her husband via the courts but she also knew that it would be an uphill battle! This was pure savagery’
‘Thirty-year-old of Herat was subjected to a savage knife attack by her husband. She was engaged to her husband when she was 11 and claimed that he became addicted to heroin while working in Iran. One day her husband insisted that she hand over her jewellery to him so he could sell it to buy some drugs. She refused – so her husband hit the back of her head with a stone and she lost consciousness. While she was unconscious, her husband stabbed her head several times, then he sliced off her top lip and cut off her nose. She was taken to hospital and the children were taken to her mother to be looked after. Her husband ran away never to be found again.
-‘Some of these reports will be the kind of everyday violence that a number of Afghan women face at home. Many women are too afraid to seek justice because, campaigners say, more often than not their cases are ignored. Now with the Taliban taking over, it perhaps would not stop at anything. It would not be wrong to say that women are the most endangered species in Afghanistan at the moment and who better than a lady teacher can sum it up.’
‘We fought for years to get out, do we need to fight again for the same things? A lady the founder and executive director of ‘Learn’, a nonprofit focused on education and women’s rights in Kabul was in tears. “We were strong Afghan ladies but now objects of ridicule. Our country was the best but it stands ruined now. We have been mourning the fall of Afghanistan for quite some time. So I’m not feeling very well. On the contrary, I’m feeling very hopeless. The children are text messaging, years of study were all for nothing. The Taliban kept talking about girls’ education, but they hadn’t defined what that meant. Islamic studies are assumed, but what about gender education? What about professional education?’.
‘On the evening of June 3 2021, in Kabul, the capital, unidentified attackers detonated an improvised explosive device attached to a van carrying Khairi, an anchor at the local broadcaster Ariana News TV. The explosion killed Khairi, her mother, and two other passengers, and also injured the journalist’s sister. The young broadcaster had been receiving death threats for months.’
-‘There are no answers as yet. Whether they would come or not is anyone’s guess but as of now there is no hope! But the ladies have not given up as yet but are they strong enough to challenge the might of the block heads of the guns? Time will answer but at the moment it is despairing negativity that prevails!’
It is impossible for us to imagine the deadening torpor of a protected life under house arrest. Eventually, one is grateful for the smallest outing outdoors — a lovely picnic in a burqa, being allowed to watch the men and boys fly kites or eat something in the streets of Kabul. Things were looking up and bright in the last 20 years but the sudden savage take over has set ablaze everything as the Kabul river is in flames and the women are the ones on the altars of sacrifices. Surely the silencing of the lambs as the scared flock wants to flee but to where? Options are limited and the insecurity and fear expansive. Perhaps one of the biggest ditching shows of the century put up by the superpower of the world. They created an expansive Hollywood blockbuster which had no climax at all proving that size does not matter in the modern day world!
I. In serious trouble:
When one gender is so unwanted, so despised, and so suppressed in a place where daughters are expressly unwanted, perhaps both the body and the mind of a growing human can be expected to revolt against becoming a woman. And thus, perhaps, alter someone for good. Maybe this is also the time that Afghan women rise to take on the biggest oppression they face as Taliban begins to issue the dictates which look chilling and scary. Afghan men often describe women as more sensitive, caring, and less physically capable than men. This we all men say. But what Afghan women want is something different. Regardless of who they are, whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, they only want one thing and that is freedom which again is getting into the compounds where only shackles, chains, punishment and brutality awaits them.
Burqa is back to comply with Taliban rules that women should be covered up and accompanied by a male relative when they leave the house.
To Afghanistan’s women, the flowing cloth represents the sudden and devastating loss of rights gained over 20 years, the right to work, study, move and even live in peace, that they fear will never be regained. They had wriggled their way out of it but the same is back.
When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, they closed girls’ schools and banned women from working. After the US invaded in 2001, restrictions on women eased, and even as the war raged, a local commitment to improving women’s rights, supported by international groups and donors, led to the creation of new legal protections. But all that is history because the troops have left and it is a free run for the Taliban yet again and what rules of engagement they will set now is not clear but one thing is definite that they would be stringent and extreme for the girls and the ladies.
In 2009, the elimination of violence against women law criminalized rape, battery and forced marriage and made it illegal to stop women or girls from working or studying. This time, the Taliban is promising to form an Afghan inclusive Islamic government, although it’s not clear what form that will take and if the new leadership will include women. Everything is fluid and the women are uncertain and the future is all in haze and fog.
The women are concerned about their future freedom but Talban is mentioning that girls would be allowed to study. Schools will be open and the girls and the women, they will be going to schools, as teachers, as students. Will that happen is the question that is rattling the brains because the shadows and the scars of the past are still looming large and they will not get erased soon.
An Independent Human Rights Commission had said a few weeks back that in areas controlled by the Taliban, women had been ordered not to attend health services without a male guardian. TV was banned, and teachers and students were instructed to wear turbans and grow beards. Religious scholars, government officials, journalists, human rights defenders and women had become victims of targeted killings, the commission said. But now they control the whole country. So it can be made out that the dictates would be similar and it can be speculated that Afghanistan is bound to be taken into the primitive times. The country has been battered and ravaged by wars and thus nothing much can be said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to all abuses. International humanitarian law and human rights, especially the hard-won gains of women and girls, must be preserved,” he said.
In chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, desperate Afghans scaled an air bridge in an attempt to board planes out of the country. But for many millions of people, there is no escape.
Majority will not get out and will be in great need both for urgent humanitarian assistance and for other essential services like education and health. It’s the wrong and worst time now for donors to be saying, ‘we are done with you Afghans.
II. Afghan women on streets:
We all have read the great European revolutions in social studies classes and all of us remember that France implemented a law in 1800 that said women could not wear pants; it was not formally removed until 2013. Many other taboos have been confined to dust bins and are now history and that is the only ray of hope seeping through.
Thousands of desperate Afghans want to leave the war-torn country. But women who are fearful for their lives and afraid that their rights would be taken away have decided to take to the streets. They feel that basic human rights won by them over the 20 years could now be reversed. They are demanding their rights, including right to work, social security, right to education and right to political participation.
For twenty years some good did happen but all those achievements they feel would be washed away. Men joining the protests can be great but that is a far fetched dream in Kabul at the moment.
But the British Chief of Army staff did make a positive remark when he said that the world should give the Taliban the space to form a new government in Afghanistan and may discover that the insurgents cast as terrorists by the West for decades have become more reasonable. The leaders of the Taliban will show themselves to the world, an official of the Islamist movement said, unlike during the last 20 years, when its leaders have lived largely in secret. He also said We should also remember absolutely that they are not a homogenous organisation – the Taliban is a group of disparate tribal figures that come from all over rural Afghanistan. So some hope persists but nothing can be made out. Anyway someday in our future it may be possible for Afghan women not to be restricted to those roles society deems natural, God-given, or appropriately feminine. A woman will not need to be disguised as a man to go outside, to climb a tree, or to make money. She will not need to make an effort to resemble a man, or to think like one. Instead, she could speak a language that men will want to understand. She will be free to wear a suit or a skirt or something entirely different. But that can only be imagined because at the moment they are paralyzed with fear. Will a better tomorrow arrive! Will it ever? Will the fires on Kabul River the legendary Indus subside? Only time would tell that since all answers are inside the padlocks on the invisible boxes of time!