Testimony Of Women Trapped In Afghanistan: "I’d Rather Have My Daughters Die Than Fall Into The Hands Of The Taliban"

We are a group of women who write from Herat, a very ancient city, founded by Alexander the Great and famous for the beauty of its monuments and parks, but which for us will be our prison. The Taliban control our entire province, they have closed the border with Iran and we cannot escape either by land or by air, because the airport is closed.

All the cities of our country are besieged by the Taliban, who control the rest of the territory. Many people would like to escape the cities, their shootings and bombings, but they cannot do so and that is why they are living on the streets or in makeshift tents. Supplies are running low, both for the people and for the army, which is also short of ammunition.

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In areas now definitely controlled by the Taliban, 176 schools have closed. Girls have been banned from education, and many of them are forcibly married from the age of 15. They are distributed to women as spoils of war, raped and flogged in public for surprising them without a burqa. Meanwhile, children are forcibly recruited as soldiers. That will be the fate that awaits us if our city falls into their hands.

For this reason, before our voices fade and our faces disappear, we want to send you these messages, hiding our real names, to try not to disappear permanently into oblivion.

From Bamian

I am very worried about my three daughters. We have no place to run to. People tell us: “When the Taliban took over Saighan and Kahmard districts, they broke into every house by force and counted the number of dresses to find out how many women lived in each house.” They say that the Taliban take women and girls by force. I prefer that my daughters die in a dignified way before they fall into his hands.

28 years old, journalist in Herat, fled to Europe in 2020

I feel safe in Europe, but I am shocked by the news that is reaching me. I can’t sleep or concentrate on anything. I don’t know if I’m dead or alive. I am ashamed of myself and feel totally worthless.

23 years old, student at the University of Herat

The only memory the Taliban leave behind is their violence and inhumane treatment of women. They will turn our daily lives into suffering again. The international community should know that if it does not stop them, it will one day have to regret it.

19 years old, Fine Arts student in Herat

I just read the book The last girl by Nadia Murad (the Yazidi human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018). What Nadia tells of the horrible crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq is very similar to what the Taliban are doing, especially in the enslavement of women and girls, what the Islamists call jihad-ul Nikah.

I think that the international community, especially the US and the other free countries that respect women’s rights, should think a little about the Taliban and not allow them to take power in Afghanistan and turn 16 million women and girls into their slaves. .

21 years old, Economics student at a private university in Herat

The return of the Taliban would eventually destroy the country’s already impoverished economy. All they know is to commit atrocities, but they have no idea how a country is run. The international community should not leave us totally abandoned. At the very least they should put pressure on the Taliban very seriously and prevent them from forming a new state, because it will be a fully terrorist state that they will have to deal with.

24 years old, teacher

If no one stops the Taliban, my dreams will go to the grave with me. The world should know that Afghan women have never been responsible for any war, but always its victims, and the victims of all conflicts and all forms of violence exercised by men.

26 years

With the Taliban moving into the cities and hearing the degrading treatment of women, I am totally unable to sleep. If that terrorist group enters my city, they will kill a member of my family and whip me in public for wearing sneakers and not a burqa. I prefer not to ask the world what it is doing for Afghanistan.

26 years old, Bamian

I have been a student since I was 16 years old. My dream would have been to be a university professor one day, but the return of the Taliban will mean imprisonment in my own home and my death, little by little. The world cannot ignore the threat the Taliban pose to women.

25 years old, Herat

I beg those who govern all the countries that have helped Afghanistan in the last two decades, and all people who respect human rights and women’s rights in particular, to watch Saira Shah’s documentary Behind the veil and realize how many women suffer a true civil death and a total loss of dignity. When you finish watching it, please think about what should be done about the Taliban.

We know that the Afghan state is paying the price for its tolerance of the Taliban for two decades, but just think that there are millions and millions of women who have had nothing to do with all this nonsense of ongoing war and violence. They have only had to suffer them.

18 years old, high school student

Every day when I wake up, the first thing I think about is doing my taekwondo exercises, dreaming that one day I can represent Afghanistan in an Olympics. Thousands of girls have the same dreams as me, and I want the whole world to know, and above all that Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary GeneralImagine what it means for an armed group to enter your city by force and announce on radio, television and the internet that from that day on, girls will never go to school again and that no one will have the right to dream and power. become what he would have liked to be. What would you like to be able to do to that group, sir?

26 years

I am a woman and I am also a Hazara and I have a small business. I have also completed a degree in Sociology. And all these things that I am are for the Taliban a problem, a sin and a crime. This is my case and that of millions of Afghan women. I have to take care of my mother and that is why I cannot flee Afghanistan. I know perfectly well that the Taliban’s seizure of power will spell the end of my dreams, my plans, and perhaps my own life.

I plead with the international community and all countries that respect human rights, and in particular women’s rights, to reflect on what the triumph of the Taliban will mean. I would like to think that the international community will never have to say “we could have prevented all the crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban, but we decided to leave.”

30 years old, history teacher at a high school

After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country suffered a bloody civil war and when the Taliban took power between 1996 and 2001, the thousands and thousands of men who fell in the war had left thousands and thousands of women widows. The Taliban forbade them to work and that is why hunger and utter miseries led thousands of them to engage in prostitution in the most degrading conditions.

These prostitutes were arrested and stoned in public spaces, but especially on Fridays in stadiums. I fear that history will repeat itself again and so I beg someone to stop them before it is too late.

We are: Sara, Amina, Roya, Marjan, Elham, Tamana Begum, Sahar, Safia, Hava, Angela, Khatera and Fatima. We know that it is almost certain that no one can help us, but please, remember that we too have lived once. When we have disappeared into silence, please! Reread these remnants of our thoughts and our feelings.

Herat, Afghanistan, August 2021.

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