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 driving force standing beside the car, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.

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

Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may now 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 haven’t 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’d like you.”

The nurse spoke with BuzzFeed Information to share with readers a “actual image” of what it’s wish to be a working lady in Afghanistan proper now, she mentioned, 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 concern and a chilling uncertainty about what their lives will appear to be underneath Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on points of girls’s rights. On Wednesday, Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid informed reporters in Kabul that there was solely a “momentary restriction” on working girls and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.

“Our safety forces should not skilled [in] the right way to take care of girls,” Mujahid mentioned. “Till we have now 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 higher risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Girls who have been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been pressured to flee the nation, their properties and places of work ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photos of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger women have been despatched house from faculty and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — girls docs and nurses can solely communicate to and deal with different girls, and all girls exterior their properties 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 sporting a hijab or not staying of their properties.

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

For girls 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 mentioned, however fears that that’s an impossibility due to her distinctive circumstances: The nurse lives along 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 mentioned that she couldn’t think about how she may presumably usher an aged lady and baby via the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights in another country.

“If one thing have been to occur to my sister, or if I needed to depart them behind, I might not have the ability to stay with myself,” she mentioned.

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

“The concern was intense,” she mentioned. “They glared at me as if I have been prey. However I saved telling myself, possibly they don’t seem to be like earlier than, they don’t beat girls anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. Not less than not but.”

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

The COVID ward, which the nurse mentioned was overrun with at the very least a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse discovered from one other nurse that the relations 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 now not have any information on the variety of COVID sufferers on this hospital, or for that matter, on this metropolis,” she informed BuzzFeed Information. “The well being ministry remains to be updating COVID information, however none of that’s actual. Nobody who’s sick desires to go away their home and run into Taliban troopers.”

A number of stampede victims have been dropped at her hospital for remedy too, however they have been males, whom she couldn’t deal with underneath the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse mentioned she discovered about this new rule from a colleague, who informed 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 daily 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 exhibiting as much as work, she mentioned.

Many sufferers, looking for to keep away from the chance of leaving their properties, 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 an inventory of medicines she would ultimately want, however she mentioned 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 just isn’t certain how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president lately informed nurses their salaries are on maintain till 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 have been almost not possible to enter on account of large crowds. The nurse mentioned 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 mentioned, she can have no method to feed her household.

In her neighborhood, the nurse mentioned that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as bizarre males on the road who had all of the sudden 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.

A number of days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for recurrently sporting denims: “It’s a very good factor the Taliban are right here to care for 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 main sources of leisure at house now not supply any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and weapons,” the nurse mentioned. “No Bollywood movies, Afghan Celebrity, or the chat reveals we used to like.” The radio, she mentioned, now not performs music however solely the Taliban’s non secular songs, which “haven’t any melody and sound like a funeral.” ●

Khatol Momand contributed reporting.

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