Middle East

Nowhere to hide: Abused Afghan women find shelters declining

Kabul: At the age of seven, Fatema married a man of sufficient age to become a great-grandfather, endured rape, beatings, and starvation, couldn’t do much more, and tried to commit suicide. She sheds tears and remembers the beating she received. Like when she was ten, she was hit by a wall and “my head hit a nail … I almost died.”

Today, a 22-year-old woman lives in one of the few abused women’s shelters still open in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in August, but at any time her I am afraid that I may lose my position. If the shelter is closed, Fatema will have nowhere to go. She lost contact with her family, but the man-in-law vowed to kill her for disgrace of their name.

Fatema’s plight is shared by millions of people in Afghanistan, whose patriarchal traditions, poverty and lack of education have hampered women’s rights for decades. According to the United Nations, 87% of Afghan women experience some form of physical, sexual or psychological violence. Nevertheless, the country of 38 million people had only 24 shelters to take care of them before the Taliban returned. Almost everything was funded by the international community and hated by many locals.

‘Start from zero’

Some NGOs running shelters strengthened their work long before the Taliban took over. The director of an organization told AFP that it had begun moving women from volatile state shelters prior to the withdrawal of US troops. Some were sent back to relatives in the hope that they would be provided with protection from vengeful in-laws. Others were sent to shelters in the larger state capital.

As the Taliban’s onslaught continued, the situation became desperate, and about 100 women were transferred to Kabul just because the capital collapsed. “We have to start from scratch,” asking us not to name or identify the organization while navigating how we operate under the new regime. Says the director. The Taliban argue that the strict interpretation of the Holy Qur’an provides rights and protection to women, but the reality is very different and they are slowly locked out of public life.

Most girls’ secondary schools are closed, women are banned from government employment except in certain disciplines, and this week’s new guidelines do not allow long journeys unless accompanied by male relatives. It is stated that. The light is flickering.

Earlier this month, Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhnzada accused forced marriage, and Taliban UN ambassador Suhail Shaheen told Amnesty that women could go to court if they were victims of violence. The shelters have not escaped their notice, but the administration has not officially announced the future of the shelters.

According to employees, Taliban fighters and officials have visited one and about 20 other women in Fatema several times. “They came in and looked at the room to make sure there were no men,” said one worker. “They said this wasn’t a safe place for women, and their place was at home,” another said. Still, it gave hope to a woman. “It was much better than we expected,” the first worker told AFP.

“I was accused of lying.”

Even before the Taliban was hijacked, many women in abusive families were largely unreliable. Since being closed by the Taliban, Zakia has approached the Ministry of Women for advice on how to escape her father-in-law who threatened to kill her. “They didn’t even listen to me,” she said, telling her that her situation wasn’t too bad. 17-year-old Mina, who escaped from her abusive uncle with her sister seven years ago, received a similar welcome. “The ministry accused me of lying,” she told AFP.

And it’s not just women looking for shelter that are vulnerable. Amnesty International says shelter workers are also “at risk of violence and death.” Some officials said they were threatened by phone by people claiming to be the Taliban looking for the whereabouts of women who had fled their families.

Increasing cases of abuse can occur as the de facto economic collapse leads to unemployment spikes, cash flow crises, and increased hunger. “When economic conditions worsen, men lose their jobs and more violence occurs,” said a shelter worker. “The situation is probably getting worse … services are generally declining,” said Alison Davidian, interim representative of UN Women in Afghanistan.

One of the few shelters open is run by Mahbouba Seraj, a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights in the country, albeit individually. After being inspected by the Taliban, she says it was “a kind of left alone,” but her concern is now with a woman trapped in an abusive family with nowhere to go. Zakia has shelter at least for now, but how long has it been? “My dad said he didn’t care about me,” she says. – AFP

https://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/nowhere-to-hide-abused-afghan-women-find-shelter-dwindling/ Nowhere to hide: Abused Afghan women find shelters declining

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