Hundreds of female professionals Trapped in Kabul Face Threats, persecution from Taliban
Among the many tragedies to occur in Afghanistan following President Joe Biden’s botched troop withdrawal is the plight of Afghan women who had worked to promote democracy in the country.
This includes hundreds of women who were trained at US taxpayer-funded institutions to promote the rule of law since 2001.
“We have been forgotten,” says Nabila, a 31-year-old judge who helped women file for divorce after their husbands went to jail. “We worked on human rights, divorce, gender-based violence. I would like to continue this work, but first I have to save myself.”
Just two days after Kabul was captured, Nabila started to receive threatening phone calls from men the Taliban had released from prison – including one man she saw stab his wife 14 times.
“They’ve promised to kill me,” says Nabila. “My husband and I now change our house every four days.”
Nabila and hundreds of other female professionals are also at the mercy of draconian restrictions imposed by the Taliban; in most cases, they aren’t even allowed to leave the house without a male escort.
“We have no clear future after years of struggling…I have not been outside the house since the Taliban took over. It is very difficult,” said one of 34 female volleyball players waiting to be evacuated from Kabul.
Also trapped inside the city are 280 students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.
“Musical diversity, Western music, girls and boys music…Everything we did was against the Taliban’s ideology,” laments Ahmad Sarmast, director of the institute. Sarmast has continued to lead the institute even after suffering permanent hearing damage during a suicide bombing in 2014.
Many of those trapped in Kabul do not have a government-issued ID or passport and have thus been turned away from Biden’s rescue missions. As noted in the Wall Street Journal, more than 50% of Afghan women do not own a government-issued ID (compared to just 6% of men).
“We’re talking about the most highly educated Afghan women who don’t have documents,” says human rights attorney Kimberley Motley. “We absolutely have an obligation to legal professionals who were part of these programs. We sold them the idea that rule of law is the foundation for building up a ‘democratic and civilized society.’”
With the Taliban in control, the dream of a ‘democratic and civilized society’ is over.
As my colleague Joe Gilbertson wrote in a previous article (click here), the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will lead to the enslavement of more than 14 million women. With Sharia law in effect, women will lose the right to drive or hold public office. They will be forced to cover themselves in public and will be bought and sold like slaves. All instances of rape will be blamed on women, who are likely to face capital punishment for their “crimes.”