Afghan Women Still Working Face A Scary Future

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 motive force standing beside the car, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.

“He was screaming, ‘all the ladies should go away, sister please go, the Taliban are right here!’” the 35-year-old nurse recalled. “At first we couldn’t perceive him; it appeared unattainable.”

Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may not put on in Kabul, she and the opposite ladies round her climbed into the again of the truck, which dropped them every off at house. For 3 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 don’t have any drawback with ladies,” she recalled him saying. “Please come again to work. There are duties right here that solely you are able to do; we’re strapped for sources, we want you.”

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

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

“Our safety forces aren’t skilled [in] the best way to cope with ladies,” Mujahid stated. “Till we now have full safety in place … we ask ladies to remain house.”
However the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan ladies have been saying all alongside: that their house nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place ladies face better risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Ladies who had been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been pressured to flee the nation, their properties and places of work ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photographs of ladies have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger women have been despatched house from faculty and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — ladies medical doctors and nurses can solely communicate to and deal with different ladies, and all ladies exterior their properties should put on hijab. Even in areas the place the Taliban is but to start out policing ladies, their return to energy has emboldened vigilantes who’ve threatened ladies for not carrying a hijab or not staying of their properties.

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

For girls just like the nurse, the one incomes member in her household, going to work was by no means a selection however a necessity. She now goals of leaving Afghanistan, she stated, however fears that that’s an impossibility due to her distinctive circumstances: The nurse lives together 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 girl and baby via the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights overseas.

“If one thing had been to occur to my sister, or if I needed to go away them behind, I’d not be capable of reside with myself,” she stated.

Despite the fact that 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 worry was intense,” she stated. “They glared at me as if I had been prey. However I stored telling myself, perhaps they aren’t like earlier than, they don’t beat ladies anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. At the least not but.”

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

The COVID ward, which the nurse stated was overrun with not less than 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 menace than the coronavirus and had taken their sick relations house or straight to the airport.

“We not have any knowledge on the variety of COVID sufferers on this hospital, or for that matter, on this metropolis,” she instructed BuzzFeed Information. “The well being ministry continues to be updating COVID knowledge, however none of that’s actual. Nobody who’s sick needs to depart their home and run into Taliban troopers.”

A number of stampede victims had been delivered to her hospital for remedy too, however they had been males, whom she couldn’t deal with underneath the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse stated she realized about this new rule from a colleague, who instructed her she had been despatched house 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 exhibiting as much as work, she stated.

Many sufferers, searching for to keep away from the danger of leaving their properties, have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse just lately delivered a child when a pregnant girl confirmed up in her neighborhood, begging for assist. The nurse carried no matter provides she may discover and walked with the lady to her house, the place she delivered the child in secret. The nurse left the lady with an inventory of medicines she would finally want, however she stated she has not heard from her once more.

The nurse is afraid of creating too many house visits due to the Taliban troopers at checkpoints who’re monitoring motion across the metropolis, however she is just not positive how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president just lately instructed 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 in a position to entry an ATM and isn’t positive what to do if she runs out of money. If the Taliban forces ladies like her to cease working, the nurse stated, she could have no approach to feed her household.

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

A number of days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for commonly carrying denims: “It’s a superb factor the Taliban are right here to handle ladies such as 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 house not provide any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and weapons,” the nurse stated. “No Bollywood movies, Afghan Celebrity, or the chat reveals we used to like.” The radio, she stated, not performs music however solely the Taliban’s spiritual songs, which “don’t have any melody and sound like a funeral.” ●

Khatol Momand contributed reporting.

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