AfghanistanWomen Political Participation

Desperate Afghan Women Wait for U.S. Protection, as Promised

WASHINGTON — Even as they cling to hope of being rescued by the American government, Afghan women who worked with the United States over the past 20 years are destroying any hint of that association — shredding documents written in English, deleting social media apps and then burying their cellphones.

Current and former U.S. officials and activists described the desperate steps Afghan women have taken since the Taliban’s takeover of their country this week as a grim reminder of the heightened threat they face because of their gender.

Any attempt to contact American or international refugee agencies is a risk that most Afghan women are not willing to take, the officials and activists said. Even going to the airport in Kabul, to try to secure a place on an American or international flight overflowing with anguished Afghans, has become a life-or-death decision.

The United States joined 20 countries and the European Union in demanding that the rights of Afghan women be protected, and pledging to send humanitarian aid and other support “to ensure that their voices can be heard.”

“The most dangerous place in Afghanistan right now is the Kabul airport,” Rina Amiri, a former official at the State Department and United Nations, said on Tuesday. She recounted stories of women and their families being caught between volleys of gunfire, or beaten by Taliban supporters, as they tried but failed to find a plane that would fly them out.

Humira Saqib

Humira Saqib (born 1980) is an Afghan journalist and women's human rights activist. She is one of the leading activists who through her writings in the magazine Negah-e-Zan (A Vision of Women) and in Afghan Women's News Agency, has been protesting against extreme forms of harassment against women in her radically Islamic country. She pleads that the parliament should enact laws for "Elimination of Violence against Women and enforce it vigorously.... Education, is also a key to changing mentalities around women's roles in society."[1][2][3] She is now pursuing her efforts to further women's rights by working for the women's news agency as a writer and editor.[

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