Interview by Enrico Campofreda. Journalist and writer
Despite obstacles to connections in these days, which see several militants of the Revolutionary Association Women of Afghanistan movement and the Hambastagi party forced to a sort of self-protecting curfew, since some of them are well known by the Taliban fundamentalists and beyond, we have managed to ask three questions. We were helped by the activists of the Italian non-profit organization CISDA, which for years has established a relationship of support for social projects with these Afghans and local NGOs. Responding from a secret number, a militant confirms that the organization is protecting her comrades from possible arrests and leveraging tools (PCs, electronic cards, cell phones) salvaged from kidnappings carried out by the Taliban. Thus, the clandestine struggle is on the horizon…
Can the Islamic Emirate of 2021 differ from that of 1996?
The Afghans got to know the Taliban who ruled the country and imprinted the terrible memories of those horrible days. At that time the situation of women was the worst: the girls could not go to school or university, they could not work or leave the house without their father, husband, a male family member. They were imposed on how to dress, whether to wear the burqa or the hijab. Loud voice and laughter were forbidden. Since today the Taliban matrix is the same – promoting the same rules and orientations – the situation will not be better, especially for women and children. The Koranics try to show a different face in the eyes and under the pressure of the international community. They pretend a transformation. They say they have changed to be recognized by foreign governments. It is likely that the first few weeks may appear less traumatic, but we know it is a fiction: ultimately, they will try to control all aspects of the daily life of men, women, children. In some provinces, with the exception of Kabul, Koranic students already do not allow women to go to work and have promoted inhumane restrictions. You cannot go out without the mahram (a member of the family, ed.); in schools and universities the classes of boys and girls must be separated; female teachers who had taught in the men’s schools cannot continue doing so; same thing for the male teachers in the women’s institutes. Women and young girls must wear hijabs and burqas. Only a few faculties are reserved for university students: medicine, nursing, literature. We cannot forget the suicide attacks and bombs of recent times, the massacres at the University of Kabul, in religious centers, in schools, the kidnappings, the beheading of citizens. Nothing has changed.
Western analysts and politicians are beating on the issue of compromised civil rights and the condition of women, did the twenty years of the Islamic Republic led by Karzai and Ghani guarantee them?
In a country with decades of war on its shoulders, women and children are the most fragile part of the population. In a country where you are not allowed to go to school because you are a girl, where at ten you are married to a man of fifty, where they kill you because you tried to raise your voice against fundamentalists—in a country that is the worst place to be born a woman, how can our lives be? Throughout history, Afghans have always paid the highest price. For twenty years the Taliban have existed in every corner of our territory, especially in rural areas and villages where their law was applied. In the capital itself, the situation was no better: Farkhunda was killed and burned a few kilometers from the presidential palace, little Mahsa was kidnapped and killed. To get to know the picture of Afghan women, we should not look only at some who sit in Parliament or are operational for those NGOs that have the support of the United States. Ghani’s puppet government has installed many women in power and in parliamentary seats to perform alleged women’s freedom. It was a pantomime to propagate the dirty Western policies in Afghanistan. Even in early 2021, before the Taliban entered Kabul, more than twenty women – journalists, police officers, soldiers, magistrates, health workers – were victims of targeted killings, mostly by brutal and misogynistic fundamentalists.
Will the Rawa organization, which has survived many regimes, continue its path?
Absolutely yes, it will do so by returning to operate in complete hiding. This is precisely the time when we need to stand side by side and work for women and children in need.
Ph. © Women in burqa with their children in Herat, Afghanistan, by Arnesen/ Wikimedia Commons