May 31, 2022

Quotes By and About Women in Afghanistan Under the Taliban 20 Years Ago

It's sad, extremely sad to see what is happening to women in Afghanistan. Nothing has changed in the Taliban's strategies and views on women. They remain the same people as they were 20 or 30 years ago. Today I stumbled upon archive and found quotes by women and about women 20 years ago. These quotes took me to 1990s, the decade that resembled like today, nothing has changed in the Taliban's outlook. For the original, please visit here

Report on the Taliban's War Against Women
November 17, 2001

They made me invisible, shrouded and non-being
A shadow, no existence, made silent and unseeing
Denied of freedom, confined to my cage
Tell me how to handle my anger and my rage?
-- Zieba Shorish-Shamley, from  "Look into my World"  published on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Taliban in Their Own Words
"It's like having a flower, or a rose. You water it and keep it at home for yourself, to look at it and smell it. It [a woman] is not supposed to be taken out of the house to be smelled."
-- Syed Ghaisuddin, Taliban Minister of Education, when asked why women needed to be confined at home

"If we are to ask Afghan women, their problems have been solved."
-- Qudratullah Jamal, Taliban Minister of Culture

"We have enough problems with the education of men, and in those affairs no one asks us about that."
-- Qari Mullah Din Muhammad Hanif, Taliban Minister of Higher Education

"If a woman wants to work away from her home and with men, then that is not allowed by our religion and our culture. If we force them to do this they may want to commit suicide."
-- Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, Taliban Minister of Justice

"We do not have any immediate plans to give jobs to (women) who have been laid off.  But they can find themselves jobs enjoying their free lives."
-- Moulvi Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel, Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs

And in Their People's Words
"Because of the Taliban, Afghanistan has become a jail for women. We haven't got any human rights. We haven't the right to go outside, to go to work, to look after our children."
-- Faranos Nazir, 34-year-old woman in Kabul

"Approximately 80% of women and men agreed that women should be able to move about freely and that the teachings of Islam do not restrict women's human rights." 
-- Physicians for Human Rights, "Women's Health and Human Rights in Afghanistan: A Population-Based Assessment"

"'Indignity is our destination,' says Seema, 30, who used to work at a health center and now roams the streets in Kabul begging to support her children."
-- Time, November 29, 2000

"When we are together, everyone here is talking about how the Taliban has destroyed our lives.  They won't let us go to school because they want us to be illiterate like them."
-- Nasima, 35-year-old Kabul resident

May 24, 2022

The biggest concern for Hazaras

Personally, I am less worried about the recent Taliban's restrictions on women appearing on TV or in public in that matter. What makes me more worried is the rampant violence across Afghanistan, specifically the genocide of the Hazara people which has been going on for years now and recently intensified. Attacks on Hazaras have become a daily occurrence now. No one takes responsibility anymore, even daily attacks don't make headlines, only attacks on a large scale become newsworthy. 

Since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, a wave of violence swept the entire country, but violence against Hazaras is different, they are being systematically targeted at schools, mosques, hospitals, public squares, on the streets, and even in their homes. Simultaneously, something worse is happening these days. Pashtun Kuchis (nomads) have invaded Hazarajat, a region where the Hazaras live. They move with their livestock from village to village, grazing Hazara pastures, wheat farms, vegetable gardens, cutting and destroying trees and saplings. They trample their farmland, the very things that Hazara's livelihood is depend upon.

When local Hazaras protest, they are being attacked and killed by Pashtun Kuchis who are supported by the Taliban. This year, when autumn arrives, the Hazara people have nothing to reap from their farm fields. They are facing a serious famine. A bestial cruelty at its best. This is a matter of concern, not the hijab or covered faces of women on television and on the streets. The truth is that if we consider the tribal form of Islam, it is what the Taliban, and other Islamist groups trying to implement to some degree.

May 13, 2022

Why should we oppose the release of Afghanistan's reserves to the Taliban?

I am personally against the transfer of the former Afghanistan's government reserves ($7 billion) to the Taliban, for two reasons:

1) The Taliban as de factor rulers of Afghanistan are incapable of using the assets and even if they are, they will not use the funds among the population fairly. For the past 8 months, UN humanitarian aid has reached different cities across Afghanistan but most of the Hazara areas have not received them even once. For example, Pashtun families in southern and eastern Afghanistan, such as Jalalabad and Helmand, received 38 to 42 times while in central and northern Afghanistan, people have not receive a single grain of rice. 

2) This fund does not belong to the Taliban and to be honest, most of it comes from foreign donations and it belongs to the former government that supposed to represent all the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban is a terror group, representing the Pashtun tribe mostly, they do not represent all the people of Afghanistan. They do not represent women who half half of Afghanistan's population, they do not represent Tajiks and Uzbeks either. If you look at the Taliban's government, offices are filled with old Pashtun males, no women and no minority groups. 

I am also against the idea that these assets should be dispersed to the 9/11 victims because the perpetrators of 9/11 attacks were Saudis, not Afghanistanis. Giving the assets to the victims of 9/11 is worse than theft.

The funds should be handed over to Afghanistan one day, but not now while the Taliban are in power who terrorize minority ethnic groups. We know that the Taliban will not last long in power, and when there is a new government representing all people of Afghanistan, the funds should be released.

May 11, 2022

Afghanistani men who evacuated with multiple wives

In early September of 2021, AP reported that there were potentially young girls among evacuees who were forced to marry older men to escape the brutality of the Taliban regime. Well, there is a strange case that I am following closely. Well, it is about an Afghanistani who brought two women, one registered as a wife and the other as a sister. His wife, who has six children, the young woman recorded as his sister, has only one young child, but recently, the neighbors recently began noticing her belly gradually expanding. Neighbors are confused and wonder whether the man impregnated his sister, or the woman is his second wife. Recently, the neighbors began speculating that the young woman is the man's second wife. They are currently kept in one of those lily pads overseas and have been there since six months ago or more. The officials at the camp are also aware of it but do not know how to deal with it. 

I spoke with a few translators who have worked in military bases across the US, where Afghan refugees were held temporarily. They told me they noticed older men with young girls, who were often registered as their daughters but without mothers or any more senior female members. They told me that the translators noticed it, and they turned a blind eye.  See this report:

An internal document described to the Associated Press by officials familiar with it says that Afghan girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi have come forward with allegations that they were raped by older men they were forced to marry in order to escape Afghanistan. U.S. officials at intake centers in the United Arab Emirates and in Wisconsin have identified numerous incidents in which Afghan girls have been presented to authorities as the "wives" of much older men.

One of the translators told me he decided to bring it to the attention of the Americans, but other translators discouraged him and said, let it go for now; they will have a problem when resettled. The translators shared their suspicions of polygamy cases that were not detected by the US officials but did not do anything because they could not establish claims without evidence or direct observation. On its latest update, the USCIS has added a tab on its website under "Information for Afghans" called polygamous marriages:

Polygamous Marriages

Polygamy is the religious practice or historical custom of having more than one spouse at the same time. Polygamous marriages are legal under Afghan law, but they are illegal in all states in the United States. U.S. law does not recognize polygamous marriages. Individuals should not continue to practice polygamy in the United States. Generally, we will only consider the first marriage of a polygamous marriage valid for immigration purposes. If you continue a polygamous marriage you were in before you came to the United States or begin a new polygamous marriage in the United States, we may deny your immigration application.

If you have questions about polygamous marriage and U.S. immigration law, contact your local resettlement agency. If you need to find legal services, please visit the Find Legal Services webpage.  

The translators told me that the wives were not allowed to come out of their rooms, and when they did, they were forced to cover their faces while their husbands were on the lookout. I will write more about this later.