'Scared to Hope Even, Just Want Kin Alive': We Read Out Ordeals of Afghan Women
"Just waiting for Taliban to come any day, kill me. But I can die in peace knowing my daughters are safe," said one.
Video Editors: Vivek Gupta, Mohd Irshad Alam
Illustrations: Arnica Kala
The last of the US troops have left Afghanistan, ending a 20-year-old war. But they have left behind chaos, fear, and hopelessness.
Since the Taliban took over, the women of Afghanistan have shown exemplary courage. They are out on the streets, they are back at work. Many women have led protests – raising placards and shouting slogans before armed Taliban militants.
But they are scared. They fear that the dark and draconian days spent under the previous Taliban rule will come back to haunt them again. They can't trust the 'moderate' Taliban.
They have been risking their lives and are unsure of what the future holds for them. The Quint spoke to three women who are stuck in the country and hardly have any hope of escaping. We read out their ordeals.
(Graphics: Arnica Kala)
(Graphics: Arnica Kala)
(Graphics: Arnica Kala)
'How Do I Get to the Airport Without Being Shot at?'
Sakina* (*name changed to protect identity) is a 30-year-old practising lawyer and a mother to two daughters. She lost her husband to cancer, two years ago.
Sakina lost her mother when she was nine, due to lack of medical facilities under the Taliban regime in 2000. Twenty-one years later, she can't help but relive the past.
Her visa was taking very long to process, so she sent her five-year-old and seven-year-old daughters out of the country, with her brother's family. "I didn't want to hold them back. It was the toughest decision of my life," Sakina told The Quint, holding back her tears as she spoke.
Her life revolved around her office, her daughters' school, supermarkets, and community parks. But now, Sakina has not stepped out of her home in the last several days. Her supply of groceries is dwindling. She is running out of money. But stepping out is not an option.
Since the death of her husband, Sakina has been managing the finances. But she's worried about being able to retain and access her hard-earned money.
"I used to eat my meals with two of my babies running around and creating ruckus. Now, there is a deafening silence inside my home. But, my daughters will not live a life like me," said Sakina. She desperately wants to leave the country and meet her daughters. But can only wait for a miracle.
'We are Prisoners Fighting to Be Alive'
Zainab* is a 20-year-old final-year student. She loves music and aspires to be a singer.
She used to go to college, hang out with friends, eat at restaurants, play the guitar and listen to music.
But today, she is locked inside a room. She's not even allowed to open a window. Only her mother is allowed to enter the room. Her family fears that she, an unmarried woman, would be subjected to horrors by the Taliban, like last time.
"I was born the year the Taliban was defeated. While I have heard of horrors from my parents and brothers, I have mostly seen only good times, " Zainab told The Quint, her voice cracking as she spoke.
Zainab treasures her mobile phone – her only window to the outside world, despite the patchy internet connection and severe power cuts.
Zainab and her friends have been checking on each other through their phones. "It's only a matter of days before the internet is snapped. I don't know how long I can be confined to the four walls."
Zainab, the youngest of her siblings, fears that many of her female cousins will not even be able to finish school. She confides that before the Taliban took over, she would tell everyone that she 'wants' to be a singer but now, she recalls how she 'wanted' to be singer.
She is scared that she won't be able to finish her graduation, that she'll lose her music, that she might even lose her life. Will she and her family succeed in escaping the Taliban rule? She only hopes against hope.
Salma* is a resident of Herat. She works in a foreign organisation, but is now sitting at home. She's a mother, who is worried for her children.
She strongly believes the entire world has abandoned the people of Afghanistan – especially the women and children, who are most vulnerable under the Taliban. Salma fears an entire generation of Afghan women are torn. She sees spaces she rightfully occupied – streets, offices, schools, and universities, shrink into nothingness.
Salma doesn't know if and when she can go back to work. She told The Quint that the Taliban are searching door to door, looking for government officials. She fears for her life and the welfare of her family, but has lost all hopes.
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