We abandoned the women of Afghanistan

A women’s rights activist in Afghanistan sent me a message: “I’m alive, I’m not sure for how long.” I received many similar messages from women across Afghanistan and also from women’s rights groups working on the ground.

I have a friend’s daughters, who stay with me during the holidays: they are 7, 10 and 14 years old. The 14-year-old is lounging around in baggy jeans and a T-shirt that reveals her young belly as she types her phone and sends selfies to her classmates. The girls sit down to read books, ask for some money to run to the shops, and argue over who is going to use the seemingly superior red controller to play video games. I sit in the corner, carefully going through the hundreds of emails that arrive in my inbox.

They send me hundreds of scanned documents of women and children in Afghanistan, passport photos that look at me while the talk of the girls who enjoy their freedom sounds around me. I try to explain to them that I am trying to get women and children out of Afghanistan because they can marry them against their will, because they may not be able to go to school, that they always have to ask a man for permission to be who they are … and these girls look at me blankly, unable to conceive of such a thing.

I don’t know if I will be able to help everyone who comes to me with hope. Currently, the UK’s Afghan Assistance and Relocation Policy (ARAP) does not include Afghans and their dependents who are at high risk of persecution due to their women’s and human rights activism. I look at the schemes of other countries and try to find other options; those of some of our allies, like Canada, seem more hopeful. Will the UK surely follow suit and prioritize these women?

That is why I endorse the call of the The Independent for the British government to increase the number of refugees that can leave Afghanistan. The current proposal does not meet the scale of the challenge. I mean, surely we had a plan, before we retired, for the obvious threat to women and those with whom we have been working to improve women’s rights. Surely, no government worth its salt would have taken an action that obviously posed a clear and immediate threat to the women of a country without having an adequate plan specifically on women’s safety.

Surely any country that has professed its commitment to girls’ education and used the freedoms granted to women as a justification for its actions for so long, would have had a clear and organized plan, with charities on the ground and local agencies. to assess the risk situation for Afghan women. I have asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace to send me copies of the assessments they made on the safety of women in their planning, and also to send me the details of what they put in place to at least mitigate the risks. I look forward to reading the detailed analysis and strategy for women’s safety that, of course, any decent government that had been present in a country for so long would surely have undertaken. Surely, because we never forget the experiences of women in politics, right?

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It appears that women in Afghanistan were collateral damage that none of the governments involved did not even consider when they decided to pull out. I was surprised that when Donald Trump began the withdrawal, he did not consider the outcome for the female of the species. I would have thought that Joe Biden and our own government could have considered it more. Well yes, it may be difficult for women and girls for a while, but don’t worry, the Taliban have said that it will all work out. So now we hope that the girls of Afghanistan will depend on their very own Super Smash Bros to defend their rights, except they don’t have any brightly colored controller to help them.

We are where we are now. The women of Afghanistan cannot afford to have time for despair. Action is what is needed. In addition to making the resettlement of women, as well as women’s rights activists and workers, a clear priority, we must prioritize the needs and rights of Afghan women and girls in whatever action is taken in response to the situation. Working with the UN, we must ensure that Afghan women and girls are involved in shaping any humanitarian response. We must encourage neighboring countries to keep borders open for evacuations and facilitate aid, including support for safe houses and gender-based violence services for women and their families who cannot flee.

We seem to have forgotten the experiences of women and girls in planning this troop withdrawal; we must not forget them going forward. Boris Johnson and Joe Biden can talk about the responsibility stopping with them. Trash! In reality, the responsibility rests with the women of Afghanistan, who will actually bear the brunt of their decisions. I guess it’s easier to handle a weight if you always ask someone else to carry it.

From The Independent From great britain. Special for Page12

Translation: Celita Doyhambéhère

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