Taliban takeover, safe houses for women have vanished

On the 6th of December, Amnesty International issued a statement expressing concern about the closure of all safe houses in Afghanistan. In a traditional-patriarchal society with a high rate of domestic violence, gender-based violence, it is vital to run and build as many safe houses as necessary. 

A woman calls to a friend in Kabul,  “I’m really worried I’m not going to be alive tonight.” This means she is sacred and perhaps she needs a safe haven far from the violence! But are there any safe houses in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover? Are the Taliban willingly jailing the victims? 

Victims of violence are sheltered for many years across Afghanistan, these safe houses due to the dangers and Taliban takeover faced serious challenges, and the women needed immediate intervention for help. Beating, rape, physical and sexual violence, and forced marriage are among the most common forms of gender-based violence in Afghanistan as in many countries.

The woman, Reza Gul, 20, was attacked by her husband with a knife on Sunday in Shar-Shar, a village in an impoverished and Taliban-controlled part of Faryab Province.  2016

Amnesty International quotes from the interviews; women from the shelters have vanished, the security personnel of these shelters in the Badghis, Bamyan, Daikundi, Herat, Kabul, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Paktika, Sar-e-Pul, and Takhar provinces have been abolished. Safe houses were closed.

Many of the safe houses were looted and occupied by Taliban members, and the ability to provide essential services to women and girls who are facing violence has been eliminated.

In some cases, Taliban members harassed or threatened and jailed their staff, the women who remain alongside the other staff have no access to the safe houses.  The women lawyers, judges, governmental officials are now at risk of death, lashing punishment, and serious violence.

Soon after the Taliban takeover, they attacked the women shelters in many cities; they gave the women two options: Return to their abusive families some of whom had threatened them with death for leaving, or go with our Taliban mujahideen, it means there is no safe heaven under our Islamic authority than to accept Jihad ul Nikaah

Over the past two decades, activists set up dozens of women’s shelters around Afghanistan. But even before the Taliban takeover, conservative Afghans, including government officials, viewed them with suspicion, as places that help women and girls defy their families or abet moral crimes. 

A shelter in Kabul in 2014. Whether such centers will continue is firmly in the hands of the Taliban, who are expected to announce their own laws soon about women’s conduct.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Should Afghan women accept the barbaric violence by the family or Taliban?  

Most of the women chose to return back home, fearing the Taliban were more than fearing life from their own families. According to Afghan news agencies, the Taliban imprisoned women instead of giving them shelter, clothes, and basic needs. 

“Amnesty International Secretary-General, Agnes Kalamar said the Taliban had opened prisons across the country, without considering the dangers posed by criminals convicted of women and girls who were the actual victims, and those who worked for survivors.”

There should be always several obligations to those who rule Afghanistan;

They should protect and support women under any circumstances, and the UN and international organizations can observe meaningful support received by women as well as guarantee the accessibility of the shelters. 

To protect women and girls from further violence, Amnesty International has called on the Taliban to “support the reopening of all shelters and the restoration of other protection services for survivors. Taliban are encouraged to the revitalization of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, ensuring free and fearless retaliation.”

Amnesty International also asked the Taliban to allow women who have been or are experiencing violence to re-enter safe houses to ensure that its employees continue to work without any fear.

By: Marziye Vafayi writer & psychologist

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