Why Are Afghan Women Disappearing From Kabul Streets?

by Business Watch Team

Since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital on Sunday, women have largely stayed indoors.

The Taliban has repeatedly said that women’s rights will be protected under their rule, but it is clear that many Afghan women are terrified by the prospect of life under the Taliban.

Walking the streets of Taliban-controlled Kabul, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward reports seeing far fewer women venturing out into the streets now, compared to just a few days ago. Those who do brave the outside world tend to be dressed more conservatively than before, their faces often covered with niqabs, or veils.

Many of the educated, fearless women who spent the last decade building their careers are desperately looking for a way out, worried they may be targeted by the Taliban.

“I’m thinking about my future, my daughters, what will happen to them if they kill me – two daughters, without a mother,” one woman told CNN.

The woman, who CNN is not naming for security reasons, has worked for a number of international NGOs. She said she has spent days desperately pleading with them for help, but none has responded.

“It is not easy … having more than 10 years experience of working with international [organizations] and not one of them helped me,” she said.

For one clothing store in central Kabul, the Taliban takeover has meant a boost for business; Its owner told CNN he has sold many burqas in recent days.

The garment covers the body from head to toe, with a mesh panel over the eyes. It was mandatory attire for women when the Taliban last ruled in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Burqas became a far less common sight in Kabul over the past two decades, but the news that the Taliban is once again in charge has sparked an increase in sales.

The shopkeeper said his customers – largely men – are frightened and are buying them for their wives, daughters, and other women in their lives because they feel that from now on, wearing a burqa may be the only way for them to stay safe on the streets.

Ward also speaks to prominent female Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi, who tells her promising change is not enough.

“[The Taliban] have to really prove it in the provinces across Afghanistan. They have to show it by example. It’s very easy to issue statements, but people need to see that in practice.”

Koofi continued: “I’m concerned for my daughters and all the girls of Afghanistan. I don’t want history to repeat itself on them very brutally.”

CNN’s Clarissa Ward has been in Afghanistan since the start of August, where she got exclusive access to an Afghan base in Kandahar days before it was taken by the Taliban. Ward also interviewed the Taliban at a former US military base in Ghazni province after it was seized as well as reporting from the streets of Kabul after the Taliban took control of the capital city.

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