Taliban search house-to-house for women, girls for marriage, says escaped journalist

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Taliban search house-to-house for women, girls for marriage, says escaped journalist

In a moving report a journalist, who escaped from Afghanistan, has described how life has taken a 180-degree turn for Afghan women after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

Hollie McKay, writing in The Dallas Morning News said that after the takeover of Kabul last week, the Taliban have been going house-to-house in the country, looking for women and girls over 15 for marriage.

McKay said that though she was able to leave Mazar-e-Sharif, her Afghan friends who remain behind are gripped by the fear of the unknown that awaits them.

“I thought of how hard women had fought for their freedoms in this country, only to have them cleaved away with a click of the insurgency finger,” said McKay.

McKay wrote about a 14-year-old girl whom she had met at a displacement hub on the periphery of Kabul earlier that week. The girl had run for her life from the fighting in Kunduz and just wanted an education and to one day become a doctor.

She also wrote about another Afghan woman Fariha Easer, who she met many years earlier. Fariha, who used to be the voice of embattled Afghan women and roamed the volatile country to bring the stories of Afghan women to light and to be a potent force for change, broke into a million pieces after the Taliban takeover.

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“My friends on the outside are begging me to leave my country,” Fariha said. “But how can I, when my sisters are suffering?”, reported The Dallas Morning News.

“But pain and invisibility are not all these incredibly brave activist fears. She told me the Taliban have been going house-to-house, looking for women and girls over 15 for marriage. A month ago, insurgent members arrived on the doorstep of her friend’s home in Badakhshan, which fell to the group several months ago, looking for young brides. Fariha told me the story she heard from her friend,” said McKay.

“They were saying that they are the saviours, the guards of Islam, the liberators of the West,” Fariha said in a tiny but firm voice. “They asked one father to give over his daughters as wives. They said one of the Taliban is a mullah, and they must make an engagement for him.”

Only the request, as told to Fariha, was a rhetorical one. There was no choice. The unmarried 21-year-old was taken away in the dead of night.

“After the marriage, they took the young woman away. But the father found out after three days that it was not only the Taliban who married her and had sex with her, she was being raped by four others every night,” Fariha recounted the story.

“The father went to the district governor and was told there was nothing he could do. Whatever could be done, he must do himself.”

In a slim silver lining to a drastically sad tragedy, the father fled with all his daughters into hiding, reported McKay.

The prospect of being forcibly married to the Taliban now afflicts millions of Afghan girls and women; the security blanket once provided to them by the NATO presence has been torn away, reported The Dallas Morning News.

“Nothing has changed. They [the Taliban] are trying to say that they have changed their behaviour, but they have not,” Fariha said, a quiver in her soft voice. “They have not changed, and they will not change. They are defined by violence, killing, by a constant violating of human rights.”

“In my own experience of being inside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as it fell last Saturday, I saw the bustling city brimming with women immediately become a ghost town. The few women who eventually stepped into the sunshine were sheathed in blue burqas, neither seen nor heard,” said McKay. 

(With ANI inputs)

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