Afghan Women Still Working Face A Scary Future

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The drugs truck was parked in entrance of the hospital when the nurse arrived for work on that Sunday, Aug. 15, and as she approached the constructing, she noticed the driving force standing beside the automobile, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.

“He was screaming, ‘all the women must leave, sister please go, the Taliban are here!’” the 35-year-old nurse recalled. “At first we could not understand him; it seemed impossible.”

Dressed in denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may now not put on in Kabul, she and the opposite girls round her climbed into the again of the truck, which dropped them every off at dwelling. For three days, the nurse was too scared to depart her home. On the fourth morning, she obtained a name from the hospital’s president: “The Taliban have no problem with women,” she recalled him saying. “Please come back to work. There are tasks here that only you can do; we are strapped for resources, we need you.”

The nurse spoke with BuzzFeed News to share with readers a “real picture” of what it’s wish to be a working lady in Afghanistan proper now, she stated, requesting anonymity as a result of she fears for her life.

For working girls who stay in Afghanistan, the times because the fall of Kabul have introduced worry and a chilling uncertainty about what their lives will seem like beneath Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on features of girls’s rights. On Wednesday, Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid informed reporters in Kabul that there was solely a “temporary restriction” on working girls and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.

“Our security forces are not trained [in] how to deal with women,” Mujahid stated. “Until we have full security in place … we ask women to stay home.”
But the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan girls have been saying all alongside: that their dwelling nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place girls face better risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Women who had been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been pressured to flee the nation, their houses and workplaces ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photos of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Young ladies have been despatched dwelling from college and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — girls medical doctors and nurses can solely communicate to and deal with different girls, and all girls outdoors their houses should put on hijab. Even in areas the place the Taliban is but to begin policing girls, their return to energy has emboldened vigilantes who’ve threatened girls for not carrying a hijab or not staying of their houses.

“We’re just waiting now,” stated the nurse, who has labored on the hospital for 10 years. “But even we don’t know what we’re waiting for.”

For girls just like the nurse, the one incomes member in her household, going to work was by no means a alternative however a necessity. She now desires of leaving Afghanistan, she stated, however fears that that’s an impossibility due to her distinctive circumstances: The nurse lives along with her mom and a sister with disabilities who requires fixed care. Even earlier than a bomb killed dozens of individuals on the Kabul airport on Thursday, the nurse stated that she couldn’t think about how she may presumably usher an aged lady and little one by the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights in a foreign country.

“If something were to happen to my sister, or if I had to leave them behind, I would not be able to live with myself,” she stated.

Even although the nurse didn’t belief the Taliban or her hospital’s president, she returned to the hospital on Thursday out of a way of obligation, she stated. On the streets, she stated, there have been troopers all over the place, carrying Kalashnikovs and watching as she walked previous in her hijab.

“The fear was intense,” she stated. “They glared at me as though I were prey. But I kept telling myself, maybe they are not like before, they do not beat women anymore. They seemed quiet, not violent. At least not yet.”

At the hospital, the safety individuals who normally manned every entrance had been lacking and your complete place appeared the wrong way up. She walked in to search out that the majority affected person wards had been empty — many had merely ripped their IVs out and left the hospital on foot. Those who remained — a couple of terminally sick sufferers, one pregnant lady — appeared terrified, she stated.

The COVID ward, which the nurse stated was overrun with a minimum of a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse realized from one other nurse that the family members of some sufferers had determined the Taliban was a extra harmful risk than the coronavirus and had taken their sick members of the family dwelling or straight to the airport.

“We no longer have any data on the number of COVID patients in this hospital, or for that matter, in this city,” she informed BuzzFeed News. “The health ministry is still updating COVID data, but none of that is real. No one who is sick wants to leave their house and run into Taliban soldiers.”

A few stampede victims had been delivered to her hospital for therapy too, however they had been males, whom she couldn’t deal with beneath the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse stated she realized about this new rule from a colleague, who informed her she had been despatched dwelling by Taliban troopers when she was seen talking to a person with a bleeding foot.

Nurses and medical doctors are required to go to the hospital day-after-day to log their presence within the metropolis for the Taliban. Between the brand new insurance policies and the empty wards, the nurse is having a tough time motivating herself to maintain displaying as much as work, she stated.

Many sufferers, in search of to keep away from the chance of leaving their houses, have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse not too long ago delivered a child when a pregnant lady confirmed up in her neighborhood, begging for assist. The nurse carried no matter provides she may discover and walked with the lady to her dwelling, the place she delivered the child in secret. The nurse left the lady with an inventory of medicines she would ultimately want, however she stated she has not heard from her once more.

The nurse is afraid of constructing too many dwelling visits due to the Taliban troopers at checkpoints who’re monitoring motion across the metropolis, however she just isn’t certain how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president not too long ago informed nurses their salaries are on maintain till town’s banks begin functioning usually once more — banks in Kabul closed on Aug. 15, simply earlier than Afghanistan’s former president, Ashraf Ghani, fled and the Taliban arrived within the capital. When banks reopened after almost per week, they had been almost unattainable to enter on account of huge crowds. The nurse stated she hasn’t been capable of entry an ATM and isn’t certain what to do if she runs out of money. If the Taliban forces girls like her to cease working, the nurse stated, she may have no solution to feed her household.

In her neighborhood, the nurse stated that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as unusual males on the road who had abruptly appointed themselves ethical guardians, telling girls to return dwelling, put on a hijab, and present some disgrace, warning them of beatings if they don’t comply.

A few days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for usually carrying denims: “It’s a good thing the Taliban are here to take care of women like you,” she recalled him saying. Since then, the nurse’s mom and a younger male neighbor have taken turns going out to purchase bread and necessities for the household.

The nurse spends most of her time indoors now, however her major sources of leisure at dwelling now not provide any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and guns,” the nurse stated. “No Bollywood films, Afghan Superstar, or the chat shows we used to love.” The radio, she stated, now not performs music however solely the Taliban’s non secular songs, which “have no melody and sound like a funeral.” ●

Khatol Momand contributed reporting.

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