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International Women’s Day: Activist describes being detained by Taliban

It was an afternoon last fall when a group of Taliban fighters stormed a Kabul building and arrested several women’s rights activists.

Sama and her colleagues met in the Afghan city to discuss what steps they can take to show their support for women’s rights. Instead, they were arrested and put in a Taliban prison.

“We were taken to an unknown location,” Sama, a women’s rights activist in Kabul, told CTV News this week. Saman is not the woman’s real name. CTV News is using a pseudonym for security reasons and has removed some details of her story to prevent her identity.

She said she and other activists went into hiding for several days before the Taliban publicly acknowledged that they, like many others who spoke out about women’s rights, had been arrested.

According to a report released Monday by Amnesty International, people who publicly criticize the Taliban’s “abusive rules” have been detained without explanation. This includes those who stand up for the rights of women and girls, said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International. report.

Among them was recently detained Narges Sadat, defender of women’s rights, by the Taliban. civil society activist Fardin Fedai; author and activist Zekria Asoli; and Afghan-French journalist Mortaza Behboudi. Former Afghan MP Qais Khan Waqili and journalist Muhammad Yar Majroh are also in prison, according to the rights group.

After returning to power on August 15, 2021, the Taliban banned women from working and attending universities, and girls cannot attend school outside of the borders. sixth grade.

The Taliban have gone so far as to ban women from public life, issuing decrees and guidelines that violate women’s rights to freedom of movement, Amnesty International said. says.

Sama was released after spending more than a month in a Taliban prison.

The Taliban have been known to force protesters and other prisoners to sign non-disclosure agreements after their release so they cannot talk about their treatment. Amnesty International.

Despite her imprisonment, Sama says she will continue to fight for women until the Taliban accept and recognize them.

“I think we have to accept prison, torture and threats to stand up to this brutality,” he said.

Sama says the Taliban can arrest women and put them in jail, but that can’t silence them.

For a woman who used to be a human rights activist and freely participate in various human rights gatherings, it is now usually too risky to go out and meet her colleagues.

However, on Monday she gathered her friends and women’s rights advocates in Kabul to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) a few days early, a move she believes could put her life at risk.

“Unfortunately, it’s been two years since today [International Women’s Day] It has been forgotten in Afghanistan, and women themselves have been eliminated everywhere,” said Sama.

The situation is very difficult and painful for women in Afghanistan, he said, adding: “We have to resist until the Taliban recognize us and give us our rights.”

Another woman who spoke to CTV News, who used to have a job and had her own income, finds the situation almost unbearable.

He repeated Sama’s words. “Women were eliminated from everywhere. Women are really desperate and hopeless. they can’t work, they can’t study.

“Most of the women who lost their jobs were the sole breadwinners of the family like me, and now we are in a very difficult situation.”

The woman, who previously worked for the Afghan government and whose identity CTV News is also protecting, is now unemployed. He says that he is only concerned about work. He also worries about overall inequality.

Like Sama, she is not going to give up.

“We will continue our struggle until our rights are not given,” he said.

The human rights situation in Afghanistan is rapidly deteriorating, Amnesty International says, writing in a report that “relentless abuses” by the Taliban continue on a daily basis.

Reporting for this story was paid for through the Meta-funded Afghanistan Reporters in Residence program.

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