With the writing on the wall clearly announcing the return of Taliban in Afghanistan, many women in the country once again fear for their lives. They fear, not so much for life, but for a life that will once again be not worth living.
"There has been no change in the Taliban's attitude. With the return of the Taliban, the same black period will be established and women will be housed again," says a woman, who is a part of the social media campaign to bring worldwide attention on the plight of Afghan women at the moment.
Many of them join in, giving everyone a peep into a life completely devoid of human rights in the name of tradition and culture, religion and God. "During the Taliban regime, women and girls died of curable ailments because male doctors were not allowed to treat them." As for women doctors, well, women first have to be allowed the right to education.
Activist defender Fazila Baloch who took to Twitter to voice the opinions and echo the concerns of millions of hapless Afghan women, wrote, "Terrible days ahead. Afghan women and girls fear the return of the Taliban. This is not only our voice but the voice of all women in Afghanistan."
"What women have achieved in Afghanistan today is the product of twenty years of their struggle," said another woman in the video. Right now, the presence and participation of women is low because war is going on in many districts of the country. "The return of the Taliban is very worrying for us and women will be one of the main victims in the war. The lives of the women in shadiness of the Taliban will be the worst possible scenario," they added.
History of violence, suffering and abuse
A Newsweek report back in 2017 highlighted the horrors that Afghan women have to go through on a daily basis. Rape, underage sex, forced marriage, abuse, denial to education is the plight of far too many women in the country. "Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman," it said, mincing no words.
The report further brought forth the stories of girls like 10-year-old Sahar, who was forced to marry an older man after her father agreed to 'trade' her in what is known in Afghan culture as 'Badal.' This is so he could have a second wife. Then on, Sahar's husband stopped her education, beat her up and even starved her.
To divorce an abusive husband is not easy either, as the women must wait for three years to be able to do that. Even the minimum age of marriage, which is 16 years for a girl, is barely adhered to and girls as young as twelve as 'traded' off to much older men.
NGO's, agencies at risk too
Abuse of human rights never happens in isolation. It extends in the form of threats and risk to the lives of those defending and protecting human rights. The departure of US forces means the faint resemblance of normalcy and freedom experienced by women in the past two decades is going to evaporate in a matter of months. Maybe weeks.
Last week, in an interview to The Star, Mary Akrami, founder of a women's shelter in Afghanistan, spoke about her fears and how women's lifelines will be taken away from them. "The international community encouraged us, supported us, funded us, now they ignore us," she said, adding how a woman who is running away from home has no place to go and that's how many women and girls end up on the streets in Afghanistan.
Worse still, now there's a fear of Taliban lurking around the corner of every street.