Afghan women still working face a terrible future

On the Sunday of August 15th, when the nurse arrived at work, the drug cart was parked at the entrance of the hospital. When she approached the building, she saw the driver standing by the car and frantically waved to her and other nurses to turn her back.

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

She was wearing jeans and a shirt and worried that she would never wear Western-style clothes in Kabul. She and other women around climbed into the back seat of the truck, and the truck threw each of them at home. For three days, the nurse was too scared to go out. On the morning of the fourth day, she received a call from the hospital dean: “The Taliban had no opinion on women,” she recalled. “Please come back to work. There are tasks that only you can complete; our resources are tight and we need you.”

The nurse talked to BuzzFeed News and shared with readers the “real situation” of becoming a professional woman in Afghanistan. She said that she requested anonymity because she was worried about her life.

For the professional women who remain in Afghanistan, the days since the fall of Kabul have brought fear and chilling uncertainty about what their lives under the Taliban will be like. Over the past few months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that their position on women’s rights has eased. On Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told reporters in Kabul that there are only “temporary restrictions” on professional women, for their own safety in the chaos of regime change.

“Our security forces are not trained [in] How to deal with women,” Mujahid said. “Until we are completely safe…we ask women to stay at home. “
But the early days of the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan only confirmed what Afghan women have been saying: their motherland will once again become a place where women face greater dangers, restrictions, and fewer opportunities.Once a woman Openly speaking Forced to flee the country, their homes and offices were looted by armed gunmen, and posters with images of women were defaced throughout the capital. The young girl has been sent home from school and has been warned not to return. Hospitals like hospitals where nurses work are becoming gender-segregated-female doctors and nurses can only talk and treat other women, and all women who go out must wear headscarves. Even in areas where the Taliban have not yet begun policing women, their return to power has made the police officers who threaten women not wear a headscarf or stay at home boldly.

“We will wait now,” said the nurse who has worked in the hospital for 10 years. “But even we don’t know what we are waiting for.”

For a woman like a nurse, she is the only one earning money in the family. Going to work has never been a choice, but a necessity. She said that she now dreams of leaving Afghanistan, but is worried that this is impossible because of her special situation: the nurse lives with her mother and a disabled sister who needs constant care.Even before the bomb killed dozens of people Kabul Airport on Thursday, The nurse said, she couldn’t imagine how she might take an elderly woman and child through a desperate crowd, and the limited seats on a foreign flight were packed.

“If something happens to my sister, or if I have to leave them, I won’t be able to live alone,” she said.

She said that although the nurse did not trust the Taliban or the director of her hospital, she returned to the hospital on Thursday out of a sense of responsibility. She said that there were soldiers everywhere in the street, holding Kalashnikov rifles and watching her walk by wearing a headscarf.

“Fear is strong,” she said. “They stared at me as if I were prey. But I kept telling myself that maybe they weren’t what they used to be and they stopped beating women. They looked quiet, not violent. At least not yet.”

In the hospital, the security personnel who usually guarded each entrance were gone, and the whole place seemed to be turned upside down. She walked in and found that most patient rooms were empty-many people simply tore off their intravenous fluids and left the hospital on foot. She said those who stayed-some terminally ill patients, a pregnant woman-looked scared.

The nurse said that until the previous week, the COVID ward had been packed with at least a dozen patients, and it was now empty. The nurse learned from another nurse that relatives of some patients believed that the Taliban was a more dangerous threat than the coronavirus and had taken sick family members home or directly to the airport.

She told BuzzFeed News: “We no longer have any data on the number of COVID patients in this hospital or this city.” “The Ministry of Health is still updating the COVID data, but none of this is true. People who are sick don’t want to leave their own The house ran into Taliban soldiers.”

Some stampede victims were also taken to her hospital for treatment, but they are male and she cannot be treated according to the new hospital regulations. The nurse said she learned about the new rule from a colleague and she told her that she was sent home by Taliban soldiers when she was seen talking to a man with bleeding feet.

Nurses and doctors must go to the hospital every day to record their presence in the city for the Taliban. She said that between the new policy and the empty wards, it is difficult for nurses to motivate themselves to continue to work.

To avoid the risk of leaving home, many patients have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse recently delivered a baby when a pregnant woman appeared near her home, begging for help. The nurse took any supplies she could find and walked to her house with the woman, where she secretly delivered the baby. The nurse left the lady with a list of the drugs she eventually needed, but she said she never heard from her again.

As Taliban soldiers monitor the movement around the city at the checkpoint, the nurse is worried that there will be too many home visits, but she does not know how else to make money. The director of the hospital recently told nurses that their salaries will be suspended until the city’s banks resume normal operations-Kabul’s bank closed on August 15 just after the former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled and the Taliban arrived Before the capital. When the bank reopened almost a week later, they were almost inaccessible due to the large crowd. The nurse said that she couldn’t use the ATM, and she didn’t know what to do if the cash ran out. The nurse said that if the Taliban forced a woman like her to stop working, she would not be able to support her family.

Near her home, the nurse said that the soldiers did not have the same problems as ordinary men on the street. They suddenly appointed themselves as moral guardians, told the women to go home, put on a headscarf, showed some shame, and warned them not to beat them if they did not comply. .

A few days ago, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who accused her of wearing jeans: “It’s a good thing that the Taliban came here to take care of women like you,” she recalled. Since then, the nurse’s mother and a young male neighbor took turns out to buy bread and necessities for the family.

The nurse now spends most of her time indoors, but her main source of entertainment at home no longer provides any sense of escapism—TV only broadcasts news. “All I saw was a turban, a beard, and a gun,” the nurse said. “There are no Bollywood movies, Afghan superstars, or chat shows that we once liked.” She said that the radio no longer plays music, but only Taliban religious songs. These songs “have no melody and sound like a funeral.” ●

Khatol Momand reported.

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