A female Afghan mayor aired a plea of desperation as the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan sparks concerns for the safety of women in the country, particularly activists, journalists and politicians like her.
Potential target: In a recent interview with iNews, Maidan Wardak province mayor Zarifa Ghafari lamented that the extremist group “will come for people like me and kill me” as it advances aggressively across the country.
- “I’m sitting here waiting for them to come,” she was quoted as saying. “There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband.”
- The 27-year-old civil servant, who became the youngest mayor in Afghanistan in 2018, added that her family has no place to go even if they attempted to flee.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as the Taliban further advanced into Kabul.
- Other senior members of the government have also managed to flee, but Ghafari and others were left without support.
Taliban’s promise: Taliban’s chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised Sunday that they would protect the lives of women and opponents, saying they’d offer an “amnesty” to those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign forces, CNBC reported.
- “No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the Taliban said.
- The Taliban strictly imposed sharia law during its rule between 1996 and 2001. During its reign, women faced widespread oppression and the group imposed punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging.
Previously hopeful: Ghafari, who has long championed Afghan women’s rights, has been previously optimistic about the country’s future despite the start of the Taliban’s advances weeks ago.
- “Younger people are aware of what’s happening,” the mayor said in a July interview. “They have social media. They communicate. I think they will continue fighting for progress and our rights. I think there is a future for this country.”
- At the time, the outspoken leader was already receiving death threats due to the widespread support for the Taliban in the area. iNews noted that there have been three attempts on her life.
- She has vowed to continue fighting the group as long as she can, noting, “I’m not afraid of dying. I don’t want to die because there would be no one else to look after my family. So, I have to stay strong – and survive.”
Featured image via ARTE Documentary