The Afghan revolutionary who took on the Soviets and patriarchy | Women


Just one clip of Meena talking — flickering, pale, just some minutes lengthy — survives in the present day, and it seems like a prophecy. It’s 1981. She is 24, in a pale blue turtleneck and a darkish blue dotted pinafore, her wavy hair cropped brief.

Meena had simply delivered a speech in Valence, the place she was invited by the brand new French Socialist authorities to characterize the Afghan resistance motion at a celebration congress. Her speech so angered the Soviet delegation — the USSR had invaded Afghanistan two years earlier, and she or he spoke forcefully in opposition to the occupation — that they stalked out, glowering, as she raised a victory signal within the air.

Within the clip, a snippet from an interview with a Belgian information channel, she predicts — calmly, sombrely, pen in hand — the victory of anti-Soviet forces. However she additionally warns of its value: that the anti-democratic, misogynistic factions of the mujahideen being valorised by the West of their combat in opposition to the Soviets would, in flip, devour Afghanistan.

Amid the clumsy binaries of warfare, Meena was treading a difficult path.

Fixated on the inferior standing of ladies

Meena was born in 1956, within the closing a long time of Mohammed Zahir Shah’s reign. The modernist king had nudged alongside quite a few firsts for girls: feminine voices on Afghan radio, voluntary abolition of the chadar, and ratification of the structure by a Loya Jirga — a grand authorized meeting — that included ladies.

She attended one in all Kabul’s greatest colleges — the Lycee Malalai, named after a beloved folks heroine who rallied flailing Afghan forces to victory in opposition to the British in 1880 — however in her middle-class dwelling, she noticed her father periodically beat her two moms.

Uncommonly alert to injustice — her kin’ informal mistreatment of Hazara servants, of the academic disparities between her architect father and her unlettered mom — teenage Meena grew to become more and more fixated on the inferior standing of ladies.

How males noticed ladies and the way ladies noticed themselves — as people with their very own hopes and goals, fairly than in perpetual service to the household, the tribe, and the nation — wouldn’t be remodeled by state mandates alone. These roles must be renegotiated, Meena knew, by Afghan ladies themselves, from inside probably the most elementary unit of society, the household.

It’s 1976. Three years earlier, the previous king had been overthrown by his cousin, and the 225-year-old monarchy was changed with an autocratic one-party state. Kabul College, the place Meena is now learning legislation, is a microcosm of the forces buffeting Afghanistan: Marxists and Maoists, monarchists and Islamic revivalists.

Meena, 20, is married to a physician 11 years older, the one man her household might discover who match her standards: no bride worth, no second spouse, no objection to high school or work. He’s the chief of a Maoist group. Meena additionally leans left, however she just isn’t eager about being relegated to the ladies’s wing of a political outfit. She seeks an organisation that centres the liberation of Afghan ladies.

There may be none, so she begins one herself. It’s referred to as the Revolutionary Affiliation of the Girls of Afghanistan (RAWA).

Western-dressed female students wait in front of Kabul University on October 17, 1986, during the Soviet-Afghan war. (Photo by Daniel JANIN / AFP)College students stand in entrance of Kabul College in 1986 in the course of the Soviet-Afghan warfare. The earlier decade, Meena was a legislation scholar there and the campus was a microcosm of the forces buffeting Afghanistan: Marxists and Maoists, monarchists and Islamic revivalists [Daniel Janin/AFP]

A fist within the mouth of patriarchy

At first, there have been 5. A yr later, 11. They weren’t even all recognized to one another and infrequently met all collectively. As soon as, once they did meet, they sat in a room partitioned by curtains so they may hear the remainder however couldn’t see greater than three others. Years earlier than the Taliban first took over Afghanistan, at a time when ladies had the precise to schooling, had been such extraordinary measures needed?

RAWA was not plotting the downfall of the state. At first, it was organising grownup literacy courses, a preliminary step — in Meena’s imaginative and prescient — in direction of serving to ladies from strict patriarchal households develop a way of self. However in a stubbornly gendered society, the place the one ladies with any actual energy tended to be mothers-in-law, the organisers knew their work could be perceived as a risk: it could, in Dari, be mushti dar dahan — a fist within the mouth — of patriarchy.

In 1978, on the heels of a violent coup, a brand new Soviet-backed authorities started rolling out reforms throughout Afghanistan. Land was redistributed, the tricolour flag turned a strong communist purple, bride costs lowered, and marriage earlier than the age of 18 outlawed. Afghan society bristled at these adjustments — notably, students have since famous, the adjustments regarding ladies. RAWA baulked, too: if the combat for his or her rights grew to become related to imperial energy, it was Afghan ladies who would bear the brunt of the backlash. And so, it expanded its mandate, changing into, in Meena’s phrases, “an organisation of ladies struggling for the liberation of Afghanistan and of ladies”. One couldn’t be achieved with out the opposite.

Anti-Soviet resistance mounted throughout Afghanistan, first percolating within the countryside, then spreading to the cities. The crackdown by the Soviet-backed authorities additionally intensified. Political prisoners in Afghan jails — tribal leaders, clergy, public intellectuals, college students — tripled inside six months. Executions had been a day by day prevalence. Many others vanished into skinny air. Meena started visiting the households of the jailed and the disappeared, asking after them.

That is what number of ladies joined RAWA. They had been struck by the truth that Meena cared. Bereft of male safety — but additionally male authority — for the primary time, they heeded her name to channel their rage and despair right into a disciplined resistance.

Fighters inspect a captured Soviet tank in 1979In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Afghan fighters examine a Soviet tank captured a number of days after the invasion [Steve McCurry/AP Photo]

The Soviet occupation

In December 1979, Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan. RAWA members took half in common demonstrations, surreptitiously distributing political pamphlets (shabnameh, actually translating to nighttime missives, circulated underneath cowl of darkish), began Payam-e-Zan (Girls’s Message), a polemical journal that they assembled by hand, and supported secular factions of the mujahideen on the warfare entrance, the place they allotted medical help and discovered to make use of and clear weapons.

Melody Ermachild Chavis, writer of a RAWA-authorised biography of Meena, recollects story after story of Meena’s doggedness: disguised in an previous burqa, she would go to ladies from daybreak to nightfall, speaking for hours, returning each week.

That’s the closest to a critique of Meena that Chavis — who channelled 20 years of expertise as a personal investigator getting ready death-row appeals in California into reconstructing Meena’s life — heard from RAWA members. “Among the older ladies would inform her, you’ve received to relaxation, you’ve received to guard your self extra. They instructed me how she’d periodically collapse: from dehydration, exhaustion, malnourishment, generally being pregnant,” she says.

And generally from grief. As soon as, hundreds of ladies went to satisfy jailed members of the family being launched underneath a normal amnesty — when solely 120 had been launched, the ladies stormed the jail and located piles of useless our bodies.

Meena, returning dwelling from one in all her jail visits, collapsed, unable to course of what she had witnessed — the screams of a mom whose son was killed in jail. That evening, she shook in her sleep.

Afghan pupils sitting around their teacher (C) raise their hands to answer a question during a class in a tented school October 10, 1996Throughout Soviet occupation within the Nineteen Eighties, hundreds of thousands of Afghans looking for refuge from warfare crossed the border into Pakistan, lots of them settling within the now-closed Nasir Bagh refugee camp (pictured right here in 1996) in Peshawar. As a political activist opposing the occupation, Meena was additionally pressured to flee [Reuters]

‘The girl who has awoken’

The primary challenge of Payam-e-Zan, revealed in 1981, shortly earlier than Meena’s journey to Europe, options an unsigned poem.

The midnight screams of bereaved moms nonetheless resonate in my ears

I’ve seen barefoot, wandering and homeless youngsters,

I’ve seen large henna-handed brides with mourning garments,

I’ve seen the enormous partitions of prisons swallow freedom of their ravenous abdomen,

… I’m the lady who has awoken,

I’ve discovered my path and can by no means flip again

The poem was penned by Meena. By the point she returned from Europe, quite a few RAWA members and supporters had been imprisoned. Her husband, after being jailed and tortured, had fled to Pakistan. As a political activist opposing the Soviet occupation who had garnered worldwide consideration, Meena’s pictures had been being circulated at checkpoints throughout Kabul, so she too crossed the border, alongside hundreds of thousands of different Afghans looking for refuge from warfare.

In the end, she arrange a base within the Pakistani metropolis of Quetta, the place RAWA started opening colleges, clinics and orphanages for fellow refugees.

In 1986, Meena’s husband was murdered in Peshawar by mujahideen chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin — an armed group stated to have obtained extra CIA funding than another mujahideen group in the course of the Soviet warfare.

Three months later, Meena went lacking in Quetta. In August 1987, her physique was unearthed from the compound of an deserted home, identifiable solely by her wedding ceremony band. She had been strangled to loss of life, betrayed by a male RAWA supporter. Initially arrested for driving a truck full of explosives into Pakistan, the 2 males who confessed to her homicide had ties to KHAD, the Afghan secret police allied with the Soviets. In 2002, 15 years after her loss of life, they had been hurriedly executed by the Pakistani state. Afterwards, RAWA launched a press release reiterating its opposition to capital punishment.

Afghan women protest anti-Taliban slogans in 1997 is IslamabadAfghan refugees chant anti-Taliban slogans at a protest organised by RAWA in Islamabad in 1997. A male protestor holds up an image of Meena [Tanveer Mughal/AFP)

‘A living presence’

More than 10 years after Meena’s assassination, scholar Anne E Brodsky recounts viewing that clip of Meena alongside young RAWA members in Pakistan. Watching their martyred leader predict a future they had lived through but one she did not live to see, the young women were moved to tears. “Most of them had never met her,” Brodsky writes in With All Our Strength (2003), her book-length account of RAWA, “but they had heard the stories and they felt that the only reason they were where they were — educated, safe, and with a deep purpose in life and a community of love and caring to support their struggle — was the efforts of this woman”.

Brodsky, a community psychologist, interviewed more than 100 RAWA members and supporters in the early 2000s. Time and again, women spoke of how RAWA gave them meaning amid the chaos of war. “They chanted the slogans that were stuck in my throat; they spoke the words that I didn’t dare speak,” one member told Brodsky. Another, a premed student forced to stay home when the Taliban came to power in 1996, was able to claw her way out of depression through involvement with RAWA: “I even forgot I didn’t have rights and couldn’t continue my studies because I was always busy.”

RAWA’s response to Meena’s murder had been to double down on her life’s work. On both sides of the Durand Line — the British-drawn boundary between Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan — RAWA established schools and orphanages for Afghan boys and girls, literacy programmes for older women, health clinics and income-generating programmes.

In Afghanistan, then as now, most of these operations remained underground. In areas of Pakistan where it was relatively safer to operate for RAWA, many people remember Meena’s visage having pride of place. Jennifer L Fluri, a feminist political geographer at the University of Colorado, recalls in the early 2000s nearly every room in an openly RAWA-run school or orphanage in Pakistan featuring Meena’s portrait. “She was very much a living presence,” she says.

Afghan women hold a banner as they shout anti Afghan government slogans during a demonstration in Islamabad in 2005. In 2005, Afghan women hold the RAWA banner at a protest in Islamabad to demand peace in their country. In the mid-2000s, RAWA had an estimated 2,000 members living in Afghanistan and Pakistan [Faisal Mahmood/Reuters]

An nameless organisation

Meena remained the face of RAWA for an additional cause, too: after her assassination, the organisation grew to become fully nameless, working as a single, undifferentiated entrance. On the similar time, it grew to become much more decentralised, a group of committees unfold throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan that exchanged info on a need-to-know foundation.

Chavis estimates that there have been roughly 2,000 members within the mid-2000s — membership is proscribed to Afghan ladies residing in Afghanistan or Pakistan, whereas males and different ladies can be part of as supporters — however there was no possible way of ascertaining the precise quantity. For safety causes, RAWA didn’t keep a consolidated checklist.

In 1997, a yr into Taliban rule, they launched a web site, serving to them discover worldwide supporters and donors. It exists in the present day, too, caught in a 90s design warp, an ode to Meena in addition to meticulous documentation of the circumstances of Afghan ladies at massive. Set off warnings abound, adopted by an unapologetic reminder: that is the fact for a lot of.

Along with their social work, RAWA additionally started documenting Taliban atrocities at a time when Afghanistan had been largely forgotten by the world. In 1999, members smuggled a digital camera right into a soccer stadium in Kabul to movie the general public execution of Zarmina, a mom of seven accused of killing her husband. When RAWA approached Western media shops with the video, most declined to air it — it was too stunning, they stated, for his or her viewers.

Then 9/11 occurred. RAWA’s footage of Zarmina’s execution, regardless of being two years previous, started taking part in on a loop on CNN. Earlier than dropping bombs on Afghanistan, US warplanes first dropped flyers over the nation making the case for navy motion. Among the pamphlets featured photos of Taliban crimes plucked from RAWA’s web site. “RAWA was appalled,” says Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Girls’s Mission, a US-based non-profit established in 2000 by RAWA supporters. “To them, it was such a betrayal and an enormous hazard to be inadvertently related to a US invasion that they staunchly opposed. The US by no means requested for his or her permission to make use of these photos.”

Women walk past a university in Kabul in 2022In Afghanistan in the present day, RAWA’s work continues however stays underground [Reuters]

Meena’s legacy of independence

In her position as a RAWA ally, facilitating its advocacy work overseas, Kolhatkar had a front-row seat to Western liberal feminism’s encounter with RAWA.

Previous to 9/11, some members got here to the US for the primary time on a talking tour sponsored by a outstanding ladies’s organisation. “The organisation bought these little pins with squares of mesh fabric on them, much like what you’d discover on a burqa,” Kolhatkar recounted. “And one situation of the invitation was that at each occasion that includes RAWA, they’d first should play a five-minute video, produced by the organisation, highlighting the plight of Afghan ladies …  and after 9/11, they [RAWA] had been dismissed by Western feminists as being too Western. This, to me, was probably the most infuriating half: to have their work co-opted and their legacy questioned by Western feminists.”

The activists who got here to the US, writes Brodsky, had been additionally annoyed by Western makes an attempt to individualise them, needling them for his or her private tales, fairly than participating with RAWA’s institutional message.

When a RAWA consultant defined her position on RAWA’s overseas affairs committee to the Western ladies within the room, Brodsky recollects the assembly room lapsing into baffled silence. “The opposite ladies within the room appeared to pressure to combine this piece of knowledge into their psychological image of this younger girl and her grassroots group,” she writes in With All Our Energy. “Lastly somebody responded, ‘A International Affairs Committee, isn’t that organized of you?!’”

For RAWA, these experiences overseas had been a vindication of Meena’s fierce dedication to independence and her refusal to let the organisation’s mission be subsumed right into a broader political undertaking, whether or not at dwelling or overseas. “Her legacy stays actually central to RAWA, particularly with regard to independence, secular democracy, and the entire rejection of overseas intervention — besides in relation to people-to-people solidarity,” says Kolhatkar.

Fluri, as a geographer, was notably eager about analyzing how RAWA negotiated energy nearer to dwelling in Pakistan. She recollects spending time in a refugee camp in Peshawar within the early 2000s, the place RAWA wielded nice affect — a lot in order that when a lady complained of her husband frequently hitting her, they labored with male allies to have the person kicked out of the camp. “It was virtually like they’d their very own mini nation there,” says Fluri. The camp was a microcosm of their imaginative and prescient of Afghanistan — feminist, multiethnic, she says. “I bear in mind pondering, oh wow, they are surely sort of creating this there.”

Lots of the main refugee camps in Pakistan had been disbanded within the mid-2000s. As Afghan women and men returned to their homeland — usually involuntarily, hounded out by an more and more hostile host nation — RAWA’s actions in Pakistan started to dissipate. In Afghanistan, its work continues however stays underground: a mixture of home-based colleges and feminist research circles, rural well being companies, and income-generating tasks for girls, resembling poultry farms.

RAWA didn’t reply to requests for an interview.

A lot of RAWA’s work in the present day is dependent upon donations from worldwide supporters and is due to this fact particularly vulnerable to the fleeting consideration span of the West. “The state of affairs proper now inside Afghanistan is worse than it was final summer season [when US forces withdrew]. However there’s much less consideration being paid, and so it’s more durable to boost funds — and getting the cash to RAWA has additionally change into practically not possible due to US banking sanctions,” says Kolhatkar.

Nonetheless, RAWA troopers on. Final December, they marked Worldwide Human Rights Day with a protest in opposition to the Taliban, concealing their identities by sporting masks of slain Afghan activists. “Within the absence of freedom and democracy,” their placards proclaimed, “human rights don’t have any which means!”

Meena’s legacy extends past RAWA, too. Years after that refugee camp in Peshawar was shut down, not too far-off, one other younger Pashtun would change into well-known for demanding her proper to schooling — so well-known that she too could be recognized by her first title alone. In 2014, requested about her childhood recollections of studying, Malala responded: “One of many first books I learn known as Meena, a couple of lady who stood up for girls’s rights in Afghanistan.”

Afghan family which moved to Ukraine forced to flee again | Russia-Ukraine crisis News


Ajmal Rahmani has fled battle in Afghanistan, solely to seek out himself trapped within the midst of one other conflict.

After leaving Afghanistan a 12 months in the past, Ajmal Rahmani believed he had discovered a haven of peace in Ukraine.

This week, he and his household needed to flee once more, this time to Poland, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I run from one conflict, come to a different nation and one other conflict begins. Very unhealthy luck,” Rahmani informed AFP shortly after crossing the border.

His seven-year-old daughter Marwa clutched a beige-coloured smooth toy canine as Rahmani spoke.

Along with Marwa, his spouse Mina and son Omar, 11, the household walked the final 30km (18 miles) to the crossing on foot due to the gridlock on the Ukrainian aspect of the border.

After arriving in Medyka, on the Polish aspect, the household waited with different refugees for a bus to take them to the close by metropolis of Przemysl.

A whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals have fled in the course of the 4 days of battle into neighbouring international locations, primarily Poland, Hungary and Romania. The United Nations’ refugee company (UNHCR) says greater than 500,000 individuals have fled Ukraine, practically 300,000 of them coming into Poland.

Whereas a lot of the refugees are Ukrainian, amongst them are additionally college students and migrant staff from additional afield, together with Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India and Nepal.

‘I misplaced the whole lot’

Rahmani, who’s in his 40s, mentioned he labored for NATO in Afghanistan for 18 years at Kabul airport.

He determined to depart the nation 4 months earlier than the US withdrawal after receiving threats. The Taliban armed group returned to energy final August, 20 years after it was toppled in a US-led NATO invasion.

“I had a great life in Afghanistan, I had a non-public home, I had a non-public automobile, I had a great wage,” Rahmani mentioned. “I bought my automobile, my home, my the whole lot. I misplaced the whole lot.”

Ukraine was the one nation that might grant the household a visa. They arrange dwelling in Odesa, a Black Sea port metropolis.

When Russia started its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, they left the whole lot once more and travelled the 1,110km (690 miles) to the border.

INTERACTIVE- Where are Ukrainians fleeing to DAY 5 by country(Al Jazeera)

Rahmani and his household, like others with no Polish visa, now have 15 days to get registered, mentioned Tomasz Pietrzak, a lawyer with the Ocalenie (Salvation) Basis, a charity for migrants.

“Poland should in a short time amend its laws on this difficulty,” he mentioned.

Rahmani mentioned he was involved in regards to the future however was inspired by the nice and cozy welcome he acquired from volunteers and officers helping the stream of refugees on the Polish aspect of the border.

“They gave us power,” he mentioned.

Taliban conducting house-to-house sweep across Afghan capital | Taliban News


Taliban spokesman says dozens of criminals, kidnappers and smugglers arrested in operations throughout Kabul and different cities.

The Taliban are conducting an enormous safety sweep of Kabul and different Afghan cities, their spokesman mentioned on Sunday, going house-to-house looking for weapons and criminals blamed for a current spate of robberies and kidnappings.

The operation, which began on Friday, has alarmed many who worry being focused due to their affiliation with the earlier Western-backed regime or the US-led international forces who lastly withdrew on August 31.

Some irate residents posted movies on social media exhibiting properties they mentioned had been trashed throughout Taliban searches, however a number of individuals informed AFP their encounters had been well mannered and cursory.

“It was simply my nephew at house after they got here they usually made an enormous mess,” mentioned one resident, who requested to not be named, exhibiting AFP a sequence of images that exposed appreciable disruption.

The Taliban referred to as the sweep a “clearing operation”.

“We are attempting to take steps in opposition to these kidnappers, thieves and looters who’ve weapons of their fingers and threaten the lives of the individuals,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid informed a information convention.

He mentioned authorities had found two kidnap victims throughout the operation, and likewise freed two teenage women who they discovered chained in a basement.

Mujahid mentioned gentle and heavy weapons, explosives, radio gear and drones had been seized, in addition to autos belonging to the army or authorities.

Patrols stepped up

Six individuals suspected of being members of the ISIL (ISIS) group had been arrested, he mentioned, together with 9 kidnappers and 53 “skilled thieves”.

“We wish to guarantee the residents of Kabul that these operations usually are not in opposition to the frequent individuals,” Mujahid mentioned.

“The residents of the town ought to be assured the search is happening rigorously.”

The Taliban have additionally stepped up avenue patrols within the capital and established non permanent roadblocks at key intersections, the place they search autos at random or test the identities of these inside.

Dozens of newly educated policewomen have been concerned within the sweep in case there have been no males at homes being searched, Mujahid mentioned.

Social media confirmed photographs and video clips of doorways and wardrobes that had been bashed in, cushions and mattresses slashed open, and belongings strewn throughout flooring.

“The intimidations, home searches, arrests and violence in opposition to members of various ethnic teams and ladies are crimes and should cease instantly,” tweeted Andreas von Brandt, the European Union’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

“Regardless of Putin’s conflict we’re watching you,” he added, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has dominated information cycles for the previous few days.

“Give attention to securing Europe from Putin,” replied Muhammad Jalal, a Taliban official with a prolific social media presence.

“Afghans know what they’re doing.”

An Afghan Woman On The Run In Kabul


Ayoubi insisted on talking on the file regardless of the menace to her life. “I’ve spoken up sufficient occasions to be on successful checklist, so talking now gained’t change something,” she mentioned. “I wish to let the world know concerning the present scenario.”

Only a few weeks in the past, earlier than the Taliban captured Kabul, Ayoubi was on the roof of her constructing, singing along with her neighbors, and tweeting #AfghanLivesMatter. On the time, she was quoted by the French newspaper Le Monde: “If the Taliban come to Kabul, they may burn down every thing we’ve got in-built these 20 years. As I go searching, I’m wondering, what might I take with me? My three youngsters and possibly some garments.”

For the reason that fall of the capital, ladies like Ayoubi have been left scrambling to discover a approach out with their households. A few of her associates have made it out of Afghanistan. However ladies on the Taliban’s checklist are strolling on a tightrope the place a single misstep might imply loss of life. When the Taliban held energy in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, ladies and ladies had been banned from training and compelled to put on a burqa exterior the house. They may not work in any respect, and even depart the home with no male chaperone. Punishments for violating this code ranged from public floggings to executions.

A doc has circulated by social media and group chats for folks making an attempt to determine how you can depart the nation. The writer, who mentioned they work as an adviser to a authorities within the area and requested to stay nameless due to the sensitivity of the difficulty, mentioned that the doc collates publicly accessible info on visa processes in addition to recommendation on safety and journey logistics they’d gleaned from diplomats and different contacts within the nation.

“Folks can submit ideas, and I’ll confirm their accuracy earlier than placing it on,” the doc’s writer instructed BuzzFeed Information. “This info is usually accessible, however buried. Info accessibility is a large barrier.”

However the doc, which BuzzFeed Information has considered, additionally paints a vivid image of what it’s wish to navigate the maze of bureaucratic, logistical, and private challenges for Afghans merely making an attempt to get to Kabul’s worldwide airport.

“It’s best to deliver as few belongings as attainable, no pets,” the doc states. “Just one piece of small hand baggage (e.g. a purse) is allowed, and that is topic to area limitations – there have been events the place area is so tight no hand baggage has been boarded.”

Afghan Women Still Working Face A Scary Future


The medication truck was parked in entrance of the hospital when the nurse arrived for work on that Sunday, Aug. 15, and as she approached the constructing, she noticed the motive force standing beside the automobile, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.

“He was screaming, ‘all the ladies should go away, sister please go, the Taliban are right here!’” the 35-year-old nurse recalled. “At first we couldn’t perceive him; it appeared unattainable.”

Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may not put on in Kabul, she and the opposite girls round her climbed into the again of the truck, which dropped them every off at house. For 3 days, the nurse was too scared to go away her home. On the fourth morning, she acquired a name from the hospital’s president: “The Taliban don’t have any drawback with girls,” she recalled him saying. “Please come again to work. There are duties right here that solely you are able to do; we’re strapped for assets, we want you.”

The nurse spoke with BuzzFeed Information to share with readers a “actual image” of what it’s prefer to be a working lady in Afghanistan proper now, she stated, requesting anonymity as a result of she fears for her life.

For working girls who stay in Afghanistan, the times because the fall of Kabul have introduced worry and a chilling uncertainty about what their lives will appear like below Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on facets of girls’s rights. On Wednesday, Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid instructed reporters in Kabul that there was solely a “non permanent restriction” on working girls and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.

“Our safety forces will not be educated [in] how one can cope with girls,” Mujahid stated. “Till now we have full safety in place … we ask girls to remain house.”
However the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan girls have been saying all alongside: that their house nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place girls face better risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Girls who had been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been compelled to flee the nation, their houses and workplaces ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photographs of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger ladies have been despatched house from college and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — girls docs and nurses can solely converse to and deal with different girls, and all girls outdoors their houses should put on hijab. Even in areas the place the Taliban is but to start out policing girls, their return to energy has emboldened vigilantes who’ve threatened girls for not carrying a hijab or not staying of their houses.

“We’re simply ready now,” stated the nurse, who has labored on the hospital for 10 years. “However even we don’t know what we’re ready for.”

For ladies just like the nurse, the one incomes member in her household, going to work was by no means a alternative however a necessity. She now goals of leaving Afghanistan, she stated, however fears that that’s an impossibility due to her distinctive circumstances: The nurse lives together with her mom and a sister with disabilities who requires fixed care. Even earlier than a bomb killed dozens of individuals on the Kabul airport on Thursday, the nurse stated that she couldn’t think about how she may probably usher an aged lady and youngster via the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights overseas.

“If one thing had been to occur to my sister, or if I needed to go away them behind, I might not be capable of dwell with myself,” she stated.

Although the nurse didn’t belief the Taliban or her hospital’s president, she returned to the hospital on Thursday out of a way of obligation, she stated. On the streets, she stated, there have been troopers all over the place, carrying Kalashnikovs and watching as she walked previous in her hijab.

“The worry was intense,” she stated. “They glared at me as if I had been prey. However I saved telling myself, possibly they aren’t like earlier than, they don’t beat girls anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. No less than not but.”

On the hospital, the safety individuals who normally manned every entrance had been lacking and your complete place appeared the wrong way up. She walked in to search out that almost all affected person wards had been empty — many had merely ripped their IVs out and left the hospital on foot. Those that remained — just a few terminally in poor health sufferers, one pregnant lady — appeared terrified, she stated.

The COVID ward, which the nurse stated was overrun with at the very least a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse realized from one other nurse that the kin of some sufferers had determined the Taliban was a extra harmful risk than the coronavirus and had taken their sick members of the family house or straight to the airport.

“We not have any knowledge on the variety of COVID sufferers on this hospital, or for that matter, on this metropolis,” she instructed BuzzFeed Information. “The well being ministry remains to be updating COVID knowledge, however none of that’s actual. Nobody who’s sick desires to go away their home and run into Taliban troopers.”

Just a few stampede victims had been delivered to her hospital for therapy too, however they had been males, whom she couldn’t deal with below the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse stated she realized about this new rule from a colleague, who instructed her she had been despatched house by Taliban troopers when she was seen chatting with a person with a bleeding foot.

Nurses and docs are required to go to the hospital day-after-day to log their presence within the metropolis for the Taliban. Between the brand new insurance policies and the empty wards, the nurse is having a tough time motivating herself to maintain displaying as much as work, she stated.

Many sufferers, in search of to keep away from the chance of leaving their houses, have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse lately delivered a child when a pregnant lady confirmed up in her neighborhood, begging for assist. The nurse carried no matter provides she may discover and walked with the lady to her house, the place she delivered the infant in secret. The nurse left the lady with a listing of medicines she would ultimately want, however she stated she has not heard from her once more.

The nurse is afraid of constructing too many house visits due to the Taliban troopers at checkpoints who’re monitoring motion across the metropolis, however she isn’t certain how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president lately instructed nurses their salaries are on maintain till the town’s banks begin functioning usually once more — banks in Kabul closed on Aug. 15, simply earlier than Afghanistan’s former president, Ashraf Ghani, fled and the Taliban arrived within the capital. When banks reopened after almost every week, they had been almost unattainable to enter on account of large crowds. The nurse stated she hasn’t been in a position to entry an ATM and isn’t certain what to do if she runs out of money. If the Taliban forces girls like her to cease working, the nurse stated, she may have no option to feed her household.

In her neighborhood, the nurse stated that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as atypical males on the road who had immediately appointed themselves ethical guardians, telling girls to return house, put on a hijab, and present some disgrace, warning them of beatings if they don’t comply.

Just a few days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for often carrying denims: “It’s factor the Taliban are right here to deal with girls such as you,” she recalled him saying. Since then, the nurse’s mom and a younger male neighbor have taken turns going out to purchase bread and necessities for the household.

The nurse spends most of her time indoors now, however her major sources of leisure at house not supply any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and weapons,” the nurse stated. “No Bollywood movies, Afghan Celebrity, or the chat exhibits we used to like.” The radio, she stated, not performs music however solely the Taliban’s spiritual songs, which “don’t have any melody and sound like a funeral.” ●

Khatol Momand contributed reporting.

Afghan public universities reopen with gender segregated classes | Women’s Rights News


Afghanistan’s fundamental universities have reopened six months after the Taliban returned to energy, however solely a trickle of girls have returned to now-segregated courses.

Most secondary colleges for ladies and all public universities had been shuttered following the Taliban’s August 15 takeover, sparking fears girls can be barred from training – as occurred through the first rule of the Taliban, from 1996-2001.

The Taliban insist they are going to enable women and girls to be educated this time round – however solely in segregated courses and in accordance with an Islamic curriculum. The courses for female and male college students will likely be performed at completely different instances, in accordance with the ToloNews.

“I’m completely satisfied that the college resumed … we need to proceed our research,” stated an English main who requested to be recognized solely as Basira.

However she stated there was a scarcity of lecturers, including, “Perhaps as a result of some have left the nation.”

Tens of 1000’s of Afghans left the nation, amongst them academics, after the collapse of the West-backed authorities of Prime Minister Ashraf Ghani following the march of Taliban fighters on the capital Kabul in mid-August.

 

Some public tertiary establishments within the south of the nation resumed final month, however on Saturday Kabul College, the oldest and largest with a scholar physique of about 25,000 final 12 months, re-opened with out fanfare – and few college students in attendance.

A minimum of 19 universities and academic institutes had been reopened, reported the Kabul-based ToloNews quoting the Ministry of Greater Schooling.

Basira stated there have been “some difficulties” – together with college students being scolded by Taliban guards for bringing their cellphones to class.

“They didn’t behave properly with us … they had been impolite,” she stated.

One other English scholar, Maryam, stated solely seven girls attended her class.

“Earlier than we had been 56 college students, girls and boys,” she stated.

Taliban guards refused journalists entry to the sprawling campus and didn’t enable media groups to linger close to the doorway.

Students walk along the courtyard of the Badakshan UniversityCollege students stroll alongside the courtyard at Badakshan College in Faizabad after Afghanistan’s fundamental universities re-opened [Omer Abrar/AFP]

No college students in Panjshir

An analogous image emerged from campuses throughout the nation, though no college students returned to class at Panjshir College.

“I have no idea if they are going to come tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or not,” stated Professor Noor-ur-Rehman Afzali.

Panjshir was the final province to fall to the Taliban final 12 months, and Jaber Jibran, a school head, stated a number of lecture rooms destroyed in that combating had nonetheless not been repaired.

The Taliban have stated beforehand that ladies college students should put on a black abaya over their our bodies and hijab on their heads, however stopped wanting insisting on the all-covering burqa that was obligatory throughout their earlier rule.

A number of college students, nonetheless, appeared dressed no otherwise Saturday than they’d have earlier than the Taliban takeover, with a easy scarf overlaying their heads.

“I’ve by no means worn any hijab earlier than … it’s new for me,” stated Sohaila Rostami, a biology scholar in her final semester at Bamiyam College.

“I used to put on denims and different regular garments. Will probably be tough for me to watch hijab,” she advised AFP.

Afghan female students walk towards their university in KabulAfghan college students stroll in direction of their college in Kabul, Afghanistan [Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

In Herat, the traditional Silk Highway metropolis close to the Iranian border and as soon as one of many Islamic world’s most necessary mental centres, college students additionally complained a couple of lack of tutors.

“A few of our professors have additionally left the nation, however we’re completely satisfied that the college gates are open,” stated Parisa Narwan, finding out arts.

In Kabul, scholar Haseenat stated campus life for ladies was now very completely different to earlier than.

“We’re advised to not exit of our courses,” she advised AFP.

“There is no such thing as a cafeteria any extra … we aren’t allowed to go to the college’s courtyard.”

No nation has but recognised the brand new Taliban regime, which has imposed a number of restrictions on girls – together with banning them from many authorities jobs.

Western sanctions and the freezing of Kabul’s property value billions of {dollars} within the wake of Taliban seize have pushed Afghanistan’s financial system in direction of close to collapse. The UN has warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe with greater than half of the nation’s inhabitants dealing with meals insecurity.

For Afghan refugees, challenges include lack of affordable housing, job-hunting : NPR


Division of Homeland Safety and non-government personnel wave as the ultimate bus with Afghan refugees aboard departs Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Feb. 19.

Greg L. Davis/AP/DHS


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Greg L. Davis/AP/DHS


Division of Homeland Safety and non-government personnel wave as the ultimate bus with Afghan refugees aboard departs Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Feb. 19.

Greg L. Davis/AP/DHS

Previously six months, Feraidon Hakimi has had three completely different houses.

After fleeing from his native Afghanistan final August, the 22-year-old arrived at Washington Dulles Worldwide Airport and was moved to the Fort Pickett army base in Blackstone, Va. 4 months later, he moved right into a home in Maryland. However his journey within the U.S. continues to be simply starting.

“Right here, I’m alone. I’ve nobody to help me financially,” Hakimi stated.

The final teams of Afghan refugees who have been dwelling on U.S. army bases departed this month, however refugee businesses say the refugees nonetheless face immense challenges within the subsequent step of resettlement.

On Feb. 19, the Division of Homeland Safety introduced that every one Afghans who have been quickly housed on U.S. army bases have been “resettled” to communities throughout the nation. The final base that was housing Afghans, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, will stay partially open to welcome incoming Afghan refugees as a part of the DHS’s Operation Allies Welcome.

DHS says roughly 84,600 Afghan nationals, Americans and lawful everlasting residents have arrived within the U.S. as a part of Operation Allies Welcome, which was established after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August 2021. Greater than 76,000 Afghan nationals have now gone to communities throughout the nation, DHS says.

“It is a necessary milestone … however I wish to stress the mission is not over but. The onerous work in some ways is the upcoming weeks and months forward,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, instructed NPR. The nonprofit has helped settle refugees and migrants arriving within the U.S. for greater than 80 years.

Inexpensive housing continues to be a high concern for resettling refugees

Vignarajah says challenges stay forward for each refugees leaving army bases and the resettlement businesses like hers which are working to assist them. For instance, discovering inexpensive housing continues to be a significant problem, particularly in areas that Afghans choose to stay in like California and Northern Virginia.

“It is a sophisticated strategy of looking for acceptable, inexpensive housing,” Vignarajah says, when “fairly priced lodging are scarce to start with.” A scarcity of housing provide is driving up rents throughout the nation.

Laura Thompson Osuri, govt director of the nonprofit Properties Not Borders, stated help from the federal government to assist refugees discover extra everlasting housing has been missing. Properties Not Borders helps refugees and asylum-seekers within the Washington, D.C., space with furnishings and provides of their houses, as nicely serving to them discover jobs.

“The U.S. wished them off the bases as a result of it was too costly to be on the bases, however now they’re all in resorts, rather a lot are nonetheless in resorts, rather a lot usually are not in everlasting housing,” Osuri stated. “Placing them in resorts is much more costly and extra scattered about.”

NPR reached out to DHS concerning the prices of resettlement efforts and was referred to the State Division. The State Division didn’t instantly reply to remark.

Osuri provides that the dearth of inexpensive housing within the Washington space has made it almost “not possible” for refugee households to seek out everlasting housing within the space.

“It is a nightmare,” she stated. “It is so irritating to see.”

Job-hunting can also be a significant stress

For Hakimi in Maryland, housing hasn’t been his largest concern, he says. After leaving the army base in Virginia in December, Hakimi spent two days in a resort and was then moved to extra everlasting housing in Maryland.

“The method of housing was excellent for me,” Hakimi stated. However now, his best problem is making an attempt to get a job.

“My household usually are not right here, so right here I begin from the zero,” he stated. “I’m not complaining. That is simply my scenario.”

In Afghanistan, Hakimi studied journalism and public relations. Now that he is within the U.S., his associates are advising him to alter his profession path, as a result of he’d must be more adept in English to get a job in PR and have extra expertise. He is additionally making an attempt to determine if he ought to return to highschool within the U.S., and the way he’d pay for that diploma.

The resettlement company serving to Hakimi will present a housing stipend for him for 3 months. He is counting the times he has left earlier than he has to start out paying hire and supporting himself.

“I do not know what I ought to do, to be trustworthy,” he stated. “I haven’t got anybody to help me.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine leaves organizations bracing for extra refugees

Whereas organizations just like the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are nonetheless offering assist to Afghan refugees, they’re already bracing for one more wave of potential refugees from Ukraine.

“The refugee resettlement system is exactly how we shield weak populations, whether or not they’re from Afghanistan or Ukraine,” Vignarajah stated in a press release on Thursday.

“The U.S. and its allies should put together to reply to the very actual risk of a mass exodus of Ukrainian refugees. Defending the displaced can not merely be an afterthought,” she stated.

U.S. officers have predicted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine may produce between 1 million and 5 million refugees.

Gov. Cox provides an update on Afghan arrivals to kick off ‘Afghan Day on the Hill’


SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 23, 2022) — At this time Gov. Spencer J. Cox kicked off ”Afghan Day on the Hill” by saying that just about the entire 900 Afghans assigned to Utah for resettlement have arrived. He known as on Utahns to assist safe long-term housing for the ultimate 220 people which might require 50 models.

“We acknowledge the housing challenges being felt all through the state,” mentioned Gov. Cox. “We additionally know that having a protected and safe place to reside is a important want for Afghans constructing a brand new life in Utah. Our aim is to have everybody housed by the top of March.”

With the preliminary section of resettlement full, efforts will shift in direction of section two, which incorporates training, coaching and employment. Utah’s resettlement companies and the state’s Refugee Providers Workplace are collaborating to make sure households have what they want for youngsters to achieve success, together with homework assist and mentors. A number of the $1 million raised via the Utah Afghan Group Fund has already helped buy laptops and cellphones for brand spanking new households. 

“The Afghans now in Utah had been important allies to the U.S. authorities in Afghanistan and so they carry a bunch of abilities, skills and life expertise to our labor drive,” mentioned Gov. Cox. “They arrived in Utah with permission to work and we’re serving to them safe good jobs. They are going to be a beautiful addition in filling a lot wanted vacancies within the state.”

A number of payments working their manner via the legislature will assist help Afghan arrivals together with H.B. 163, which would offer entry to translation so Afghans can get hold of their driver’s license, a software that may impression their choices for employment and basic transportation. Gov. Cox counseled legislators for his or her willingness to tackle points impacting not solely Afghan arrivals but in addition refugees coming to the state.

Preliminary estimates for Afghan arrivals elevated to only over 900 on account of case dimension fluctuation (the variety of folks arriving in a bunch), folks with connections to Utah selecting to resettle right here and walk-ins who make their approach to Utah on their very own. Gov. Cox urged anybody with housing availability to ship a message to refugeehousing@utah.gov. 

Study extra about wants and alternatives for help at:

Utah Refugee Providers Workplace

Catholic Group Providers of Utah 

Worldwide Rescue Committee

Obtain a duplicate of this press launch right here.

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