A female mayor in Afghanistan fears for her life in wake of Taliban takeover
In the wake of the U.S. ending its 20-year military operation in Afghanistan, the Taliban — a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s — has taken control over the country again, even forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country. News updates and videos from the country are horrifying and sad as Afghan citizens try to flee by any means necessary. Since the insurgency, many have also worried about what will become of the Afghan women and girls still living in the country, now under the extremist rule. Tragically, one female mayor, Afghanistan’s youngest, said she is fearful for her life and is “sitting here waiting for them to come” and kill me.
Zarifa Ghafari, 27, is Afghanistan’s youngest mayor and the first woman to hold office in the conservative Maidan Shar in Wardak province.
Since the Taliban takeover, she is worried she won’t survive. “I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me,” Ghafari told the British newspaper i news. “I can’t leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?”
Senior members of the government managed to flee, but sadly, Ghafari didn’t make it out. The politician has been targeted by the Taliban in the past and has survived three attempts by the militant group to take her life. Her father was killed by the group just last November, per i news.
Also, it was only three weeks ago, as the U.S. was in the midst of pulling out of the country, that Ghafari told the same publication that she had high hopes for Afghanistan and that the country would survive any attempted coups.
“Younger people are aware of what’s happening. They have social media. They communicate,” Ghafari said just weeks ago. “I think they will continue fighting for progress and our rights. I think there is a future for this country.”
The Taliban claims that “no one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” though there is no precedence for the people of Afghanistan, especially the historically oppressed women and girls, to believe that this will actually be the case.
Activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan when she was just 15, said she was in “complete shock” at the turn of events.
As White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said today on The Today Show, “it’s certainly the case that the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans.”
Our hearts are with Zarifa Ghafari and all of the Afghan people.