Taliban erasing Women, says exiled Afghan MP

KABUL: A former Afghan woman MP who fled to Britain after the Taliban takeover in 2021 on Thursday called on the world to hold the Taliban accountable for its attempt to erase women from public life.
Fawzia Koofi, a former vice-president of the Afghan parliament, said bans on the activities of women and girls such as working for aid groups or going to school or university had resulted in them being deleted from public life. “They have literally erased women, there is nothing left except that the next edict might be that woman should not breathe,” she told AFP in an interview.
On Saturday, Afghanistan’s hardline rulers banned women from working in non-governmental organisations. The Taliban had already suspended university education for women and secondary schooling for girls.
Koofi, also one of the negotiators in failed peace talks between the then Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha in 2020, said a family member had just asked her for help leaving.
The woman said she had not asked for help earlier because “I was working. And I thought, as long as I can work, I can live here”. But now that she was unable to work she said her dreams had been “shattered”. The former MP, who survived two assassination attempts in Afghanistan, said she felt unable to help because “if everyone leaves Afghanistan, what will happen?”
She urged the world to support the women of Afghanistan who were “bravely fighting, resisting, in their own ways”. Afghan women are ‘bravely fighting, resisting, in their own ways, inside Afghanistan’, said Koofi.
“They are being arrested, they are being tortured,” she said. “I think it’s time for the world to recognise our struggles.” Koofi said protests sparked by the Taliban’s restrictions on women would not be easily suppressed in the long term.
“That is bravery. I think this will continue because for women, they have nothing else to lose.” Women in Afghanistan had lost everything and those who had left had lost their country, their identity and their mental wellbeing due to feeling totally “powerless”, she said.
However, she said, she had not rested since the day she left in September 2021, weeks after the Taliban’s takeover. And she pledged that she and other exiles were determined to “do everything possible to keep the fight alive, to keep the voice alive”. –Agencies