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This is the Dystopian Reality of Being a Woman in Afghanistan Right Now

A mother-of-two living under Taliban rule tells VICE World News she feels like a “prisoner” inside her own home.

Fozia was a working woman. She enjoyed taking her children to play in the park, she was excited to be studying for a master’s degree, and she loved having a good time with her friends.

But her life drastically changed when the Taliban regained control of the country in August 2021, two decades after they were last in power.

Since then, women have been forced out of the workplace, girls cannot attend secondary schools or colleges, and travelling anywhere without a male guardian has become extremely dangerous.

“The situation in Afghanistan as a woman is the same as a prisoner who is only allowed to breathe and walk around one room,” Fozia told VICE World News over WhatsApp. Her name has been changed and her identity is being withheld for security reasons.

“It’s very difficult for me because I was a working woman, I was studying, I was taking my kids outside, I was going to the market, I was going to park with my family, with my husband.”

In recent months, the Taliban have banned women from being able to see a male doctor, working for nongovernmental organisations, attending gyms, and studying at university.

Fozia says she isn’t able to do any of the things that make her happy. Even ordinary daily tasks like buying food for her family have become difficult.

In many parts of Afghanistan, a woman must be accompanied by an immediate male relative, such as a husband, father, or brother, when stepping outside her front door.

Fozia’s husband fled the country to find safety abroad when the Taliban took control of the country again. He had ties to the previous government so fearing for his life, he left to try and find safety in another country.

Fozia says she and her children, who are both under the age of 10, are left waiting while her husband applies for immigration status in a different country.

“​​I wish I could fly. I would take my two kids in my wings and could fly to my husband and could live happily with my family,” she said.

She wishes for her family to be reunited but for now says she’s “stuck and helpless”. 

Her father-in-law brings her food and basic necessities as she’s unable to do the shopping herself. She’s attempted a few times to leave the house with him, to go to nearby markets or take the children out for the day, but she says they’re often stopped and questioned by the Taliban and given warnings that this isn’t allowed.

It’s having an effect on her relationship with her children as they tell her she’s not a good mother and plead for their father to come back.

“Sometimes they are saying ‘you are not a good mummy, our daddy was good, he was taking us outside, he was taking us to the park,” she told VICE World News. “But you are not a good mum. Why are you not taking us outside? Why has our father left home?”

Constant restrictions around what women can, but mostly can’t do, has made her “hate” being a woman.

“​​Being anything is valued in Afghanistan, but being a woman has no value. A woman’s value becomes zero.”

Despite Taliban leaders claiming they would allow girls to continue their education, girls are banned from attending secondary school. Fozia’s daughter, who is young enough to go to school under the Taliban’s rules, makes her own way by herself everyday. All day Fozia worries about her safety.

“All day I’m thinking about her. I wonder whether she will come home safely or not.

Everyday when she does come home, I finally feel relaxed as I’m not feeling safe here [alone] with my kids.”

Fozia believes Afghan women have “no access to their legal rights”. She says her life is “full of restrictions” that limit her from doing anything.

She said buying a SIM card and using a mobile phone is a “big crime” for women. She’s tried to renew her passport and was “rejected” from doing so.

And now all she has are wishes and wants for her freedom.

“I wish I could complete my education but I couldn’t as they [the Taliban] banned girls’ education. I wish I could work so I could earn money for my kids and make them happy. I wish I could pick up and drop my daughter from school. I wish I could laugh loudly, speak loudly, express my feelings, enjoy my life, and laugh with my kids,” she said.

“I wish I could make them happy.”

Source: Vice News