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Continuing to Try to Save Afghan Women "the Only Thing We Can Do"


Image from Twitter video.

We now know that the stubborn, almost incomprehensible way in which President Biden pulled out of Afghanistan was againstmilitary advice; that it led to the deaths of 13 American soldiers and those of countless Afghan civilians. It caused traumatic pandemonium in the streets – and the swift takeover of the country by the 8th century barbarians known as the Taliban.

In the newly proclaimed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, women cannot attend Kabul University, and they cannot be members of Parliament. Women must wear black hijab and female city workers have been told to remain indoors. The media is being censored. Music is not allowed. Amputations, stoning, and poppy-growing are back. Men cannot shave their beards.

But there's more, much more.

Because the Taliban opened all the jails and freed the rapists and murderers –Afghanistan's female judges are on the run. The criminals whom they imprisoned are hunting them down, vowing revenge, swearing to do to them what they did to their murdered wives or to raped children. Six women judges, out of 220 women judges now in hiding, spoke with the BBC.

"One (judge), Masooma, said a man she sentenced for murdering his wife told her: 'I will find you and have my revenge.' judge said she had received 'more than 20 threatening phone calls from former inmates who have now been released.'"

There's still more.

The Taliban have begun to shut off the internet in specific neighborhoods. This will render communication with the outside world impossible or intermittent. There will be far fewer pleas for rescue, location information, and a diminished ability to be guided (via the "digital Dunkirk") through the streets to the airport and to the right gates.

My friend and colleague Mandy Sanghera is an international human rights activist based outside of London. She has been working with the British government since the beginning of this year helping to evacuate and resettle Afghan interpreters and staff who worked for the UK.

Mandy and I have worked together before on many other issues. In July, Mandy asked me if I wanted to help rescue some Afghan women. We created a small, ad hoc, grassroots team of women, which included two lawyers, two psychologists, a diplomat, and an academic.

She estimates that she has helped more than 80 women, activists, journalists, and minorities apply for asylum. "Then, as you know, in August the situation rapidly deteriorated and I've been inundated with requests. I still have 100 people who are left in Afghanistan."

Brishna Bayat, one of the Afghan women whom we helped evacuate and who is now in America, confirms that there are recent internet difficulties.


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