2 Afghan Women Refuse To Give Up On The Lives They Want To Live
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Women in Afghanistan are looking at the new interim government and wondering what it will mean for them. We're going to hear now from two young Afghan women caught up in this precarious moment. One is a 25 year old in Kabul named Sabira (ph). We're only using her first name out of concerns for her safety. She helped organize protests in Kabul yesterday.
Afghans are speaking out against the new Taliban government and also what they perceive as Pakistan's support for the Taliban's takeover. Video posted online shows crowds of demonstrators yesterday carrying signs, shouting near the Pakistani Embassy. This is sound from NBC News.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Yelling in non-English language).
MARTIN: Sabira told us that the Taliban first harassed the crowds, and then they started slashing people with whips.
SABIRA: They were beating especially the woman with this. And they started direct shooting on people. And after that, all day protest got very chaotic. And everybody was just going to different places and hiding themselves. But later, some of my friends, they just - Taliban just beat at them and forced them to enter in an underground.
MARTIN: And underground - it was a parking garage. The Taliban forced some of the women protesters into a parking garage. Is that right?
SABIRA: Yes, yes. They all locked the people in there for more than two or three hours. And after that, that the woman started shouting and also yelling a lot. We don't have exact news that - did the Taliban unlocked the door or the common people? But they were able to come back to their homes.
MARTIN: So what do you do now? The Taliban has announced a new interim government, made up of mostly mullahs. There are no women in the cabinet. What is your response?
SABIRA: Tomorrow again, we are going to do the protest. If we are killed and injured, but we will not let the Taliban and Pakistani leaders to come and also lead on us. First of all, they are a group of educated women with us who are really concerned of their condition and their future. First of all, the Ministry of Woman Affairs is completely removed from the government. It means that they do not - Taliban do not accept the woman, and they do not give them their rights.
MARTIN: There had been a Ministry of Women's Affairs. That's gone now. Yeah.
SABIRA: Yeah. There is no - even - there is no Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is no one by the name of Hazara, Tajik or any other ethnicity in their cabinet. All of them are Pashtun. All of them are mullahs.
MARTIN: How does your family feel, Sabira, about you being part of these protests?
SABIRA: Because my family fears - and they say that this kind of activities is not good, and you will put our life in danger. Like tonight, my mother said that you should not go to the protest, and I really don't want you to go again. But I said that if the condition is OK and if all the people are going, I will also go and join.
MARTIN: Do you think she understands why you feel you need to?
SABIRA: She does not understand - because I understand her. She is a mother. And she is living under fear. And all of my family members - like, not only my family members, all Afghan people, they are very concerned of small issues or big issues of security - and like this, my family as well. They try a lot - please take care. Even the day that the Taliban came first to Kabul, when I entered the home, I saw my mother was - she was firing some of my documents and also some of my ID cards that I had because she was afraid of the security.
MARTIN: She was burning them for your own safety.
MARTIN: Why do you, Sabira, feel like you must protest, that you must organize, that you must stand up?
SABIRA: This is because it's something very clear that if we do not raise our voice, Taliban will do any kind of violent action, any kind of discrimination, any kind of gender violence. If we do not raise our voice, it will become something very common for them. And that's why we have to raise our voice - to help my countrymen, to raise the voice of Afghan women especially to the world that the world should feel in what kind of situation we are.
MARTIN: Two hundred and sixty miles northwest of Kabul, another young woman feels trapped. We're not using her name, again to protect her safety. She was evacuated on a bus with hundreds of other young Afghan women who worked in Kabul for a U.S.-based nonprofit group called Ascend. Now she's in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. She was supposed to have gotten out on a privately chartered plane, but it has been delayed indefinitely, and she doesn't know why.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I will bear the situation for a week or two weeks. After that, I can't. My own husband is just saying, like, let's go. Or I'm just saying, like, let's go. I don't know. I don't know. It's confusing. And I can't think about it, really. I can't.
MARTIN: If she goes, she'll be leaving behind her extended family, which is difficult. But she feels like she doesn't have much choice.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I feel bad that my mom is in Kabul. My husband family is in Kabul. So I feel weird to go. But the only good thing that I have in my heart to go is, like, I will study better. Like, I was a girl which was not wearing burqa. I had my freedom actually, like. But right now I don't have any - how I will live in here, like, all the time in the room, in my home, in my nowhere else.
MARTIN: Because this is what life for you would be like under the Taliban - inside the home at all times.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Like, I will have no exact future in here. That's worrying me a lot.
MARTIN: Two young women - one waiting to leave, the other forced to stay - both determined not to give up on the lives they thought they would get to live.
(SOUNDBITE OF OATMELLO'S "FROST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.