Desperate Afghan Women Wait for U.S. Protection, as Promised

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Afghan women who worked with the U.S. oregon planetary groups are frantically erasing immoderate hint of those links for fearfulness that they volition beryllium targeted by the Taliban.

The United States joined 20 countries and the European Union successful  demanding that the rights of Afghan women beryllium  protected, and pledging to nonstop   humanitarian assistance  and different   enactment    “to guarantee  that their voices tin  beryllium  heard.”
Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Lara Jakes

Aug. 18, 2021, 12:40 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Even arsenic they cling to anticipation of being rescued by the American government, Afghan women who worked with the United States implicit the past 20 years are destroying immoderate hint of that relation — shredding documents written successful English, deleting societal media apps and past burying their cellphones.

Current and erstwhile U.S. officials and activists described the hopeless steps Afghan women person taken since the Taliban’s takeover of their state this week arsenic a grim reminder of the heightened menace they look due to the fact that of their gender.

Any effort to interaction American oregon planetary exile agencies is simply a hazard that astir Afghan women are not consenting to take, the officials and activists said. Even going to the airdrome successful Kabul, to effort to unafraid a spot connected an American oregon planetary formation overflowing with anguished Afghans, has go a life-or-death decision.

“The astir unsafe spot successful Afghanistan close present is the Kabul airport,” Rina Amiri, a erstwhile authoritative astatine the State Department and United Nations, said connected Tuesday. She recounted stories of women and their families being caught betwixt volleys of gunfire, oregon beaten by Taliban supporters, arsenic they tried but failed to find a level that would alert them out.

“It’s conscionable damning that the United States and the planetary assemblage person enactment these women successful the presumption of having to hazard not lone their lives, but that of their children and families, successful bid to permission and prevention themselves and their families,” Ms. Amiri said.

Afghan men marque up most of the interpreters and taste officers who person worked for the United States implicit the 20-year warfare and, successful turn, person been granted peculiar entree to immigrate. That is 1 crushed comparatively fewer women person been among the thousands of radical who person been evacuated from Afghanistan implicit the past period — including much than 4,000 arsenic of Wednesday greeting since the Taliban’s takeover of the authorities successful Kabul. Tens of thousands of visa applicants stay stranded crossed the country.

The Biden medication successful caller weeks has expanded migration and exile resettlement programs to let much Afghans — including women — into the United States. “We are going to bash arsenic overmuch arsenic we can, for arsenic agelong arsenic we can, for susceptible Afghans,” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, said connected Tuesday.

They include, successful galore cases, “forceful advocates for their chap Afghan women and girls,” helium said.

On Wednesday, the United States joined 20 countries and the European Union successful demanding that the rights of Afghan women beryllium protected, and pledging to nonstop humanitarian assistance and different enactment “to guarantee that their voices tin beryllium heard.”


Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

“We are profoundly disquieted astir Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, enactment and state of movement,” the countries said successful a associated connection released by the State Department.

But starring lawmakers successful Congress said that was not capable to unafraid adjacent a constricted fig of women — politicians, quality rights activists, journalists, soldiers and defenders of ideology — who could beryllium astatine the apical of the database of Taliban targets.

This week, astir Democrats and 2 Republicans successful the Senate urged Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the homeland information secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, to unreserved Afghan women who are astatine precocious hazard to the United States nether a impermanent status, and woody with the paperwork aft they were retired of danger.

“We and our unit are receiving regular reports regarding the targeting, threatening, kidnapping, torturing and assassinations of women for their work,” the senators wrote successful a missive connected Monday.

They added, “We indispensable besides support those women who mightiness autumn done the cracks of the U.S. government’s response.”

In remarks connected Monday, Mr. Biden said the United States would “continue to talk retired for the basal rights of the Afghan radical — of women and girls — conscionable arsenic we talk retired each implicit the world.”

Taliban leaders person portrayed their radical arsenic much socially evolved than it was 20 years ago, erstwhile extremists bushed women without warning, required them to deterioration head-to-toe burqas, constricted their nationalist outings, refused to fto them enactment and prevented girls from attending school.

“We guarantee that determination volition beryllium nary unit against women,” the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told journalists connected Tuesday. He promised that “no prejudice against women volition beryllium allowed,” and said that they could enactment successful nine — “within the bounds of Islamic law.”

The Biden medication has warned the Taliban that Afghanistan volition not person fiscal enactment if the radical reverts to its extremist roots, including by oppressing women. On Monday, the U.N. Security Council made wide that for the Taliban to beryllium considered a morganatic authorities — and person assistance — it indispensable not lone cull enactment and harmless haven for violent organizations and let humanitarian entree into Afghanistan, but besides support quality rights, specifically for women and girls.

“The U.S. needs to beryllium cautious successful presumption of the designation that it gives to the Taliban,” said Lisa Curtis, who oversaw argumentation for Afghanistan and elsewhere successful Central and South Asia connected the National Security Council during the Trump administration. “We request to spot factual examples that they’re going to supply quality rights, they’re going to support women’s rights.”

Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan

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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.

Already, Afghan cardinal slope assets held successful the United States person been frozen by the Treasury Department, and different nonstop American assistance to the authorities successful Kabul has halted to forestall the Taliban from misusing the funding, 2 officials said.


Credit...Shekib Rahmani/Associated Press

Just 2 months ago, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced it would nonstop $266 cardinal successful assistance to assistance Afghans struggling with nutrient and covering shortages caused by conflict. That brought the assistance agency’s full backing to Afghanistan to astir $3.9 cardinal since 2002, astir of it funneled done alleviation agencies.

Much of that wealth has paid for educating Afghan women, grooming them for jobs and making definite they person amended entree to maternal, pediatric and different wellness care. One U.S.-funded program, known arsenic Promote, prepared astir 24,000 women who were erstwhile housebound to articulation the country’s enactment unit and sharpened the dialog skills of 5,000 truthful that they could property for sex equity — including successful the bid process with the Taliban that is present defunct.

A U.S. assistance programme that trained midwives proved truthful palmy that it became a flagship task for the World Bank and secured backing from the European Union.

But portion immoderate schools crossed Afghanistan stay open, others are closing. In immoderate parts of the country, the Taliban person assured women who are doctors and wellness workers that their clinics volition stay open. In different areas, women are unsure if they should adjacent task extracurricular their homes without their husbands.

“I privation to spell out, I privation to thrust — I similar driving,” Fahima Saman said successful an interrogation from Kabul connected Tuesday, speaking lone connected the information that she not beryllium identified by her afloat sanction for fearfulness of a Taliban reprisal. “But due to the fact that of this situation, I cannot — I americium afraid.”

A precocious schoolhouse teacher and parent of two, Fahima, 29, said she and her hubby ne'er applied to immigrate to the United States, fixed that they some had jobs and believed Afghanistan’s aboriginal would beryllium much unchangeable than its past. More recently, arsenic the menace of the Taliban rose, Fahima said she did not attack the U.S. Embassy oregon planetary diplomats for assistance for fearfulness that different Afghans would deliberation she was doing thing improper oregon immoral.

Fahima said she did not judge the Taliban would respect her rights. “It’s a precise atrocious situation; it’s precise dangerous,” she said.

Ms. Amiri, a autochthonal of Kabul who is simply a naturalized U.S. citizen, demanded that the Biden medication backmost up its words of enactment for the rights of Afghan women by evacuating astatine slightest those who were astatine precocious risk.

“It should not conscionable beryllium rhetoric,” she said. “It is each possible. But determination has to beryllium the governmental volition and the appetite to bash so.”

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