In a methodical campaign, the Taliban have violently driven out from the town of Kunduz any organization or individual working to protect and support women, and relentlessly hounded any woman with a public profile. Leaving under the cover of nightfall, on foot, in taxis and disguised under burqas, the women fled the city when it became clear they were the target of concerted efforts by the fundamentalists. “I won’t go back — I will never go back,” Dr. Hassina Sarwari, the Kunduz Province director of Women for Afghan Women, told the New York Times. The organization ran a shelter for abused women, a family guidance center and a center for the children of women in the Kunduz prison.
After burning and looting various women’s organizations, the Taliban stepped up a tirade of abuse via text messages and phone calls, making threats to women and their relatives and putting them on notice there would be no reprieve. “Before we managed to take control of the shelter, Hassina Sarwari, the head of the shelter house along with all the runaway sluts and immoral girls, had already left Kunduz city,” said Abdul Wali Raghi, a Taliban commander in Kunduz. “Hassina Sarwari herself is an immoral slut and if we had captured her, she would be hanged in the main circle in Kunduz city.”
The events in northern Afghanistan have made stark the immoderate position of the Taliban, in spite of publicity statements issued by the group in recent years. Among the organizations destroyed by the Taliban were three radio stations run by women, the Fatima Zahra girls’ high school and the Women’s Empowerment Center, which held social and political awareness sessions and taught women to sew.
Women for Afghan Women’s office and children’s center were looted, its computers and cars stolen, and the organization’s shelter for abused women was completely burned and attacked with sledgehammers. Allegations of rape — in the women’s prison and university dormitories — have also been made but not proved. Taliban commanders threatened to kill “any staff or reporter” of the local media who made the allegations, calling them “satanic media” that repeated “propaganda.”
There is deep concern that women’s rights and protection in Kunduz have been devastated for the long term, with women unlikely to return to work where they feel so unsafe. Kunduz is know for having some of the most horrific cases involving women, including at least two cases of stoning in the last five years.
Read the full story in the New York Times.