One month before, by escaping the ex-president Ashraf Ghani the Afghan government failed. It was very shocking news and happened very fast. I was trying to get a visa and leave the country to Iran, Tajikistan, or Pakistan when I heard that the Taliban were taking city after city, but everything happened suddenly, and the whole system was shut down.
It was morning; I did my Yoga training, made a cup of tea, and was thinking of writing a report about women of Herat when I opened my cell phone and saw lots of messages from girls. ”Taliban entered the Kabul, and Ashraf Ghani escaped.” ”Girls, we are all banned in Kabul. ”What should we do now.” My hands started shaking, and my brain stopped working for some moments. I have never been afraid and felt insecure in my life than this. I was not able to look at my eyes in the mirror for one week. It was like losing someone very close, the death of a beloved person. Actually, I could not believe that I loved Afghanistan that much.
Suddenly Kabul started to change to the dead city. Dark and silent. People stopped going out, and the whole town was frightened. The contacts disappeared one after another. Profiles changed to private, books and photos burned. The document was graved, Women’s pictures and profiles were deleted from the walls and websites. People ran to the airports, and I sat behind my mobile and sent email after email to seek help for evacuation as a minority, woman, journalist, and a person with different beliefs.
The first thing I did was finding a safer place because there were people who knew me, and I could no longer trust anyone in Kabul. Like other girls, I deleted my accounts on social media, turned off the location for all applications, and deleted most of them. After 31 August, the first women groups came in the streets with empty hands shouting against the Taliban in their faces. The entire armed Taliban pointed their guns at them as response. Then I felt braver and started communicating and sharing information about the next gathering, and although it was impossible, women started gathering in small groups. The women’s resistance transfers the same feeling as a known painting or photo transfer. The satisfaction, appreciation, and being proud of the creator.
More women joined the resistance, social media activists used their platform to share and inform about the Taliban’s natural face and confess that the Taliban have not been changed as they say in the media. With films, photos, and hashtags, women reported that the Taliban are the same people they were 20 years before, but women are no longer the same as the previous generation. They demonstrated continuously inside and outside of Afghanistan and shouted their demands. To tell that ”Women of Afghanistan want the international community to stand behind them. Women can be ministers, and they can take power at high political levels. Women want to have access to education, health system, job markets, and legal rights as men.”
It has been about one month, my life is completely changed. I do not feel safe and am not able to sleep during the night. The fear of imagining being stuck here forever, deprived of my fundamental rights, or be killed by them is so huge and not possible to explain by words. Being educated, familiar with rights, working as a reporter, and hiding to save my life is the worst thing that could happen in this century that women of the world are enjoying their lives with their apparent rights. But between my nightmares and the dark future of Afghan girls under the control of the Taliban, I Sometimes think maybe the Afghan women are the maid by Iron. How much more can we tolerate and fight. These women were the first groups that lost all their fundamental rights by entering the Taliban. Men were called back to work women were asked to stay home until further notice. Boys were informed to go to school, but girls were not invited back. Universities opened the doors for men and women forced to stay at home. Despite all threats, we bravely demonstrated and made the world see.
Being a woman in Afghanistan is an art of constant resistance against obligatory religion, tradition, society pressure, and lows. We are continuously solving puzzles to find a solution for the problems that society offers us as a woman, obligatory hijab, non-equal rights in front of the constitution and sharia laws, fighting against wrong traditional beliefs and social judgment, resisting against being sexually abused in job markets. After all these, we still hope well for this country.
I am an artist, and my art is to resist everything that limits my talents and rights and does not recognize me as a human being.
By Nargis Rezai