Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, there have been continuous debates worldwide regarding the situation of women in the country. However, the voices of the women from the country have rarely been heard due to the risks they face with regard to detention, torture and/or even execution.
Since women cannot speak freely inside the country, Afghan women who left the country due to the oppression they faced have been speaking up on behalf of their sisters in Afghanistan. P.T., a 34 year-old woman, is one of them.
Born in Kunduz, Afghanistan, P.T. became a refugee when she was just one year old. Her family had to move to Iran from Afghanistan in 1988 due to the Soviet-Afghan war in the country. She lived as a refugee in Iran until the age of 16. P.T. returned home in 2002 following the US invasion of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s withdrawal. She married in Afghanistan and started a new life. She was also working for a women’s NGO, but things changed again after 2014.
“I was working for an international institution in the field of sexual equality. After the Taliban arrived, they started searching for people working with foreigners.” Due to increasing threats, her family decided to leave the country and P.T. became a refugee in Iran again.
“At the end of 2016, we decided to leave and go to Iran and were thinking that maybe we’d go back if the situation became better. I, my husband and my child, went to Iran by walking.”
But she could never return again. Life in Iran had not been easy either. She thinks that the situation has become worse for refugees in Iran.
“Iran never gives refugees ‘rights.’ Our future and our children’s future were uncertain. We were thinking, ‘Will we be given IDs?’, ‘Will my child be taken to school?’ My child was supposed to go to school, but they always rejected us for no reason since they were taking in a ‘limited number’ of foreign students. There were no jobs in Iran. We weren’t given any ID. I applied everywhere to get a temporary ID, but I didn’t get an answer from anywhere.”
P.T. continued: “How could I live there? How could I live without any identity, without any legal right, without my future? After that, I decided to go back to Afghanistan. Even Afghanistan seemed better than this. But it wasn’t easy to go back. There was an explosion every day, and all our relatives were out of there. They said it was worse than before, we shouldn’t have come.”
So her family decided to come to Turkey. Now, they are living in the capital, Ankara, in Altindag neighbourhood.
Describing Turkey as “someone else’s country,” she has been in Turkey since 2017. P.T. underlines that it is not a good feeling to live in “someone else’s country.” She is very upset about the situation in her hometown and she cannot go back there either. She observes that even some men who were opposing the Taliban joined it after the Taliban took control. Many women wait in their homes, fearful about their future, Jin News reports.
“The women’s situation in Afghanistan is the hardest now: we’ve heard that the men who worked for the government have joined the Taliban. Reporters who used to work freely in the past are now working for Taliban.”
She holds not only the Taliban, the Afghanistan government but also international powers responsible for the current situation.
“Women are living in secret at home, waiting to hear what’s going to happen. First, they said the Taliban will respect women’s rights, then they said they gave them only rights according to Islam’s teachings and said that girls couldn’t read after the 6th grade. Women are not ‘authorized’ by the state. What can you think of in a country without women, in an environment, in a society? The whole world is responsible for the situation in Afghanistan today.”