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Taliban abducting girls over 15 years of age for marriage, says escaped journalist

Life in Afghanistan has taken a 180-degree turn for women, reports a journalist who escaped the country after its fall to the Taliban.

After the takeover of Kabul last week, the Taliban have been going house-to-house in Afghanistan, searching for women and girls over the age of 15 for marriage, Hollie McKay wrote in The Dallas Morning News. McKay’s Afghan friends who remain behind are gripped by the fear of what awaits them, she reports.

“I thought of how hard women had fought for their freedoms in this country, only to have them cleaved away with a click of the insurgency finger,” said McKay

In her piece for the The Dallas Morning News, McKay writes of a 14-year-old girl she met at a displacement hub on the periphery of Kabul who had run for her life from the fighting in Kunduz. The girl just wanted an education and to one day become a doctor, she writes.

McKay also speaks about another Afghan woman — Fariha Easer — who she met many years earlier. Fariha used to be the voice of embattled Afghan women and roamed the volatile country to bring the stories of Afghan women to light and to be a potent force for change. After Taliban’s takeover, Easer broke into a million pieces, writes McKay.

“My friends on the outside are begging me to leave my country,” Fariha said. “But how can I, when my sisters are suffering?”, reported The Dallas Morning News.

“She told me the Taliban have been going house-to-house, looking for women and girls over 15 for marriage. A month ago, insurgent members arrived on the doorstep of her friend’s home in Badakhshan, which fell to the group several months ago, looking for young brides. Fariha told me the story she heard from her friend,” McKay reports.

“They were saying that they are the saviours, the guards of Islam, the liberators of the West,” Fariha said. “They asked one father to give over his daughters as wives. They said one of the Taliban is a mullah, and they must make an engagement for him.”

There was no choice. The unmarried 21-year-old was taken away that night.

After the marriage, Fariha recounts, the father found out that multiple members of the Taliban raped the young woman. “The father went to the district governor and was told there was nothing he could do. Whatever could be done, he must do himself.”

In a slim silver lining to a drastically sad tragedy, the father fled with all his daughters into hiding.

The prospect of being forcibly married to the Taliban now afflicts millions of Afghan girls and women. The security blanket provided by the NATO has been torn away, reports The Dallas Morning News.

“In my own experience of being inside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as it fell last Saturday, I saw the bustling city brimming with women immediately become a ghost town. The few women who eventually stepped into the sunshine were sheathed in blue burqas, neither seen nor heard,” said McKay.

(With inputs from ANI)

Afghanistan: UNSC resolution calls for ‘equal and meaningful participation of women’

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Friday, specifying the importance of “equal and meaningful participation” of women in public life.

The resolution also emphasises “the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government”, in the wake of the Taliban takeover on 15 August.

It further highlights the importance of “upholding human rights, including for women, children and minorities.”

Authorising a six-month extension of the UN mission’s mandate, Council members requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report by January 31, 2022, that outlines “strategic and operational recommendations for the mandate of UNAMA in light of recent political, security, and social developments”.

It also calls on Antonio Guterres to brief the Council on the situation in the country and the work of UNAMA every two months, until March 17, 2022.

The resolution recognizes “the need for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance” and says it requires “all parties to allow full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access”.

The people in Afghanistan are engulfed in multiple crises, with half the population in urgent need of aid. More than a billion dollars was pledged to assist the civilian population at a special UN humanitarian conference which took place on Monday.

The 15 Council members also want to ensure that Afghanistan is not used as a base for terrorism.

“The territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any country, to plan or finance terrorists acts, or to shelter and train terrorists, and that no Afghan group or inpidual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any country,” the resolution reads.

The text stresses “the important role that the United Nations will continue to have promoting peace and stability” in the country, highlighting not only UNAMA but other agencies, funds and programmes.

Separately, in a joint press statement by Security Council penholders (who lead and negotiate the drafting of resolutions) Norway and Estonia, their ambassadors noted that the situation “remains unpredictable”, in Afghanistan.

For them, today’s vote shows “the unanimous position of the Security Council to support the Afghan people through a continued presence of the United Nations on the ground.”

The two nations say they will “continue to support and strengthen the voices of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders in Afghanistan.”

“Afghan women are pillars of society and must play an essential role in building sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said the statement.

The co-penholders applauded the commitments made at Monday’s conference, to scale-up humanitarian funding, but say it is also critical to ensure that humanitarian assistance, in particular women humanitarian workers, will have safe and unhindered access throughout the country.