We at the Musawah movement write in a rapidly changing context as the Taliban are on the cusp of seizing the city of Kabul. We stand in solidarity with our sisters, partners and advocates in Afghanistan. We are horrified at the injustices and harm already experienced by the Afghan people, and even more so in the last few weeks. As a Muslim feminist organisation and a leader in the movement for gender justice and equality in the global Muslim community, we know too well the structural and entrenched barriers Afghan women and girls face to live a life free from violence and harm.
Afghan women, in all their diversity, find themselves at the toxic intersections of decades of war, political and economic instability, the total collapse of basic services from clean water to safe health care, the weaponization in the ideologies of foreign powers and extremist co-religionists who both justify violence in the name of gender justice and/or faith. The devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic adds to the misery and gravity of the situation now facing women, girls and the Afghan people.
Our partners and advocates on the ground tell us the horrifying circumstances women, children and the most disadvantaged are experiencing. One advocate tells us: “People rush towards Kabul… parks, masjids and dorms are full of displaced people.” According to journalists and United Nations’ representatives, up to half a million people have been displaced as a result of the recent Taliban offensive. We know that these official figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
Afghan women and girls are being let down again. The tragic and personal sacrifices endured by them and the Afghan people in their pursuit for justice and equality now seem in vain. A Musawah partner informed us that “..this time around, the Taliban has come to take revenge. They have lists of activists and have been killing them whenever they took over.” It is clear that the targeted and premeditated murder of human rights defenders and those deemed to be ‘collaborators’ is a clear strategic objective. They go on to say: “Panic is real. Embassies are closed, so even those who want and can afford won’t be able to leave. We are lost and confused and hurt.”
The international community, American, British and the Afghan government have a moral duty to safeguard and protect not only activists but all Afghans. Due to possible repercussions, one advocate told us under conditions of anonymity: “Everyone involved has let us down. Government, international community, the Muslim umma and of course, the Taliban.”
Musawah and its partners call for the following:
- We ask neighbouring countries to keep their borders open and ensure safe passage to fleeing refugees.
- We demand that all and any efforts to resolve this political crisis that has led to tragic humanitarian devastation to involve Afghan women and the indigenous women human rights movement as central partners and coalition members in any effort to respond to this conflict
- We urge the international women’s movements and all those fighting for the right to a life free from violence and oppression to lobby their governments and write/e-mail to their political representatives urging action that centres the needs of and partners with Afghan women and people.
- We want to alert all women’s organisations based in Afghanistan that they can access the limited funds made available by Urgent Action Fund for Women Human Rights in Asia & Pacific (UAF A&P) to support measures for safety and disaster relief.
- We recognise that everyone is also trying to find ways to be useful in these devastating times. We ask donors, both individuals and organisations, to support the efforts of organisations like UAF A&P to provide resources and ensure the safety of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan. You may reach them at https://www.uafanp.org.
Musawah is the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.