The Taliban have been going door-to-door in parts of Afghanistan looking for women and girls above the age of 15 for marriage to their fighters, a journalist who escaped the seized country has revealed. In complete contrast to their claims of respecting women and their rights, the Taliban were taking girls without their consent and marrying them forcibly or raping them, Hollie McKay wrote in The Dallas Morning News.
McKay shared what she witnessed in the country before she managed to escape: “In my own experience of being inside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as it fell last Saturday, I saw the bustling city brimming with women immediately become a ghost town. The few women who eventually stepped into the sunshine were sheathed in blue burqas, neither seen nor heard," said McKay.
She said that though she was able to leave Mazar-e-Sharif, her Afghan friends who remain behind are gripped by the fear of the unknown that awaits them. “I thought of how hard women had fought for their freedoms in this country, only to have them cleaved away with a click of the insurgency finger," said McKay.
McKay also spoke about Afghan woman activist Fariha Easer, who she had met many years earlier. Fariha, who used to be the voice of embattled Afghan women across the country, has decided to stay. “My friends on the outside are begging me to leave my country," Fariha said. “But how can I, when my sisters are suffering?"
Fariha told McKay how the Taliban have been going house-to-house, looking for women and girls over 15 for marriage. She narrated an incident she heard from her friend where the Taliban militants asked one father to give over his daughters as wives. “They said one of the Taliban is a mullah, and they must make an engagement for him," Fariha said.
Only the request, as told to Fariha, was a rhetorical one. There was no choice. The unmarried 21-year-old was taken away in the dead of night. “After the marriage, they took the young woman away. But the father found out after three days that it was not only the Taliban who married her and had sex with her, she was being raped by four others every night," Fariha recounted the story.
“The father went to the district governor and was told there was nothing he could do. Whatever could be done, he must do himself." In a slim silver lining to a drastically sad tragedy, the father fled with all his daughters into hiding, reported McKay.
McKay also wrote about a 14-year-old girl whom she had met at a displacement hub on the periphery of Kabul earlier that week. The girl had run for her life from the fighting in Kunduz and just wanted an education and to one day become a doctor.
The prospect of being forcibly married to the Taliban now afflicts millions of Afghan girls and women; the security blanket once provided to them by the NATO presence has been torn away, reported The Dallas Morning News.
“Nothing has changed. They [the Taliban] are trying to say that they have changed their behaviour, but they have not," Fariha said, a quiver in her soft voice. “They have not changed, and they will not change. They are defined by violence, killing, by a constant violating of human rights."
(With ANI inputs)