‘Afghanistan Undercover’ particulars the Taliban’s mistreatment of ladies and women : NPR


A woman sits in entrance of a bakery within the crowd with Afghan ladies ready to obtain bread in Kabul on Jan. 31, 2022.

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Ali Khara/Reuters


A woman sits in entrance of a bakery within the crowd with Afghan ladies ready to obtain bread in Kabul on Jan. 31, 2022.

Ali Khara/Reuters

In August 2021, shortly after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid held a press convention through which he vowed that the insurgents would defend ladies’s rights in response to Islamic legislation. Filmmaker Ramita Navai says it was an empty promise.

“[The Taliban] knew that the world was watching, is watching, and that ladies’s rights for the world is a litmus take a look at of their governance and the way they method human rights,” Navai says of Mujahid’s press convention. “After all, it did not take very lengthy for the world to appreciate that they weren’t as reform-minded as they had been making out.”

Navai chronicles the Taliban’s therapy of ladies within the new PBS Frontline documentary, Afghanistan Undercover, which she began researching in early 2020.

“I began wanting on the land [the Taliban] had been taking and what was taking place to ladies within the territory they had been taking up. And it was scary,” Navai says. “I needed to make a documentary nearly as a warning: Hear, all people, that is what’s taking place.”

The documentary was filmed outdoors the capital Kabul, in Afghanistan’s provinces, the place the crackdown on ladies’s rights has been significantly harsh. Since coming into energy, the Taliban have damaged their promise to permit women to proceed their education past sixth grade. With just a few exceptions, ladies are not allowed to work. When out on the street, they’re anticipated to be coated from head to toe with solely a gap for his or her eyes. Many women and girls are disappearing — arrested for violating the morality code or kidnapped and compelled to marry one of many Taliban.

Navai, who’s British, says the truth that she was born in Iran and might move as Afghan allowed her to mix in on the streets of Afghanistan and achieve entry to locations that may in any other case be off-limits. Being a lady additionally helped, she says.

“Being a lady is usually a good factor in a patriarchal society with males just like the Taliban, as a result of I used to be completely ignored,” she says. “It is not typically I get enthusiastic about being invisible as a lady and ignored and underestimated. That was considered one of them.”

Navai filmed in Afghanistan in November 2021, and once more in March this 12 months, and observed that circumstances for girls within the nation worsened between her two visits — a reality she attributes to a shift on the planet’s consideration from Afghanistan to Ukraine.

“So many ladies we spoke to mentioned precisely that to us, mentioned, ‘No one cares about Afghanistan anymore due to Ukraine. And we’re actually scared now greater than we ever had been as a result of there aren’t any checks and balances on these individuals,’ ” she says.

Interview highlights

On what she realized when she spoke to the ladies and women in jail

[The women and girls are] in there for ethical crimes, for so-called ethical crimes, they usually had all been in jail because the Taliban took over. After all, when the Taliban took over, by the best way, they emptied all the prisons throughout the nation. So all of those ladies have been in jail because the takeover. And the opposite factor we discovered — and we discovered this by way of the ladies and thru their households — was that their circumstances had not been formally recorded. So that they had simply been sucked into this black gap as a result of there was no official report of them, they’d simply gone lacking. Slowly, their households had discovered the place they had been and their households had began to all attempt negotiating launch. However after all, there was simply completely no report as a result of the Taliban had been making an attempt to maintain these feminine imprisonments secret from the world — they usually nonetheless are.

On ladies and women being kidnapped and compelled to marry Taliban fighters


Filmmaker Ramita Navai says being a lady was an asset when filming the documentary Afghanistan Undercover: “Being a lady is usually a good factor in a patriarchal society with males just like the Taliban, as a result of I used to be completely ignored.”

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Filmmaker Ramita Navai says being a lady was an asset when filming the documentary Afghanistan Undercover: “Being a lady is usually a good factor in a patriarchal society with males just like the Taliban, as a result of I used to be completely ignored.”

PBS

These compelled marriages are very completely different to the cultural phenomenon that occurs in Afghanistan of compelled marriages, and that is the place dad and mom give their daughters to households for marriage, and that is a typical apply. They get a bride worth. And households …. work collectively, in settlement collectively, and the daughter often has no say in it.

However now what’s taking place is that the Taliban are abducting ladies and women and taking them with out the household’s consent, and not using a bride worth. And what often occurs, the sample that often follows, is {that a} Taliban fighter or perhaps a Taliban commander — as a result of we uncovered proof that this was taking place at excessive ranges inside the Taliban — will see or hear of a lady they wish to marry. A variety of instances it is as a result of there is a actually fairly, engaging younger lady or woman that they’ve heard about or they’ve seen on the market, they usually method the household they usually attempt the official route first — ask for a hand in marriage.

When the household says no, that is after they abduct the woman. So they’ll flip up with reinforcements. Generally they flip up with a cleric in tow and get married, get the cleric to marry them on the spot. And infrequently the woman is taken and the household do not have entry to her. Usually the household is overwhelmed up within the course of as a result of, after all, male family members will protest. And I believe, once more, each single case that I got here throughout, members of the family had been overwhelmed when the women had been taken. … It was nearly unimaginable speaking to any of those women as a result of they’re beneath lock and key.

On how some ladies are rebelling in opposition to strict Taliban-enforced gown codes

I used to be fairly stunned, really, in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan, ladies there have been wearing a reasonably daring approach, and that basically stunned me. And I spoke to a few of these ladies, took them apart and mentioned, “Look, you are carrying actually excessive heels. I can see your ankles. You are carrying a great deal of make-up. Your hair’s falling out of your scarf. How do you dare? Are you not scared?” They usually mentioned, “Yeah, we’re scared, however this can be a type of rise up.”

And it jogged my memory of Iran. In Iran, once I was reporting there 10, 15 years in the past, you could possibly get flogged for a foul hijab. You may get flogged for carrying an excessive amount of make-up. And but all people, all the women would exit with their hair exhibiting and their make-up exhibiting, and it was form of the youth’s approach of rebelling. And the youth’s one-fingered salute to a system, an ideology they did not agree with. And it was actually humorous speaking to those younger Afghan ladies and women on this province in northern Afghanistan, who’re pushing out the boundaries, who had been daring to go away the home uncovered, that jogged my memory of what was taking place in Iran and the youth in Iran.

On the women-led underground community of secure homes to assist Afghan ladies

They’d get telephone calls from determined ladies and households across the nation. So it was an underground railway community nearly, they usually wanted shelter. So typically, households wanted to flee. The Taliban had been attempting to find them. And what was fascinating was that these younger ladies who had been working this community of secret secure homes, they had been additionally all on the run from the Taliban. So that they had been working beneath the radar and undercover on a regular basis, placing their very own lives in danger to assist households escaping the Taliban.

On the sharp rise in suicides amongst Afghan ladies — and why they’re unreported

Afghanistan is among the few nations the place charges of suicides amongst ladies had been greater than males. It is one of many few nations on the planet the place that is true. However what we’re seeing now could be a very sharp rise in suicides throughout the nation. So we’re seeing the very actual results of Taliban rule. And there are individuals who say ladies had been all the time compelled into marriage and many ladies weren’t allowed out of their properties. Nicely, a few of that is true. … Life for lots of ladies in very rural areas hasn’t modified that a lot because the Taliban got here to energy. You already know what has modified is the lack of hope. …

I spoke to many ladies residing in rural villages, they knew that there was progress someplace far within the distance in Kabul, say, that there was progress, that there was hope, that issues had been altering, even when it was a snail’s tempo, that in the event that they did find yourself in jail, there was a judicial course of and that’s now gone. And to see the results of that on this one hospital, whereas I used to be there, to see circumstances of suicide daily are available. And by the best way, docs inform me that a number of these circumstances aren’t being recorded as a result of the Taliban will not let the docs report these circumstances, as a result of they do not need the world to know that suicide charges are rocketing.

The docs additionally informed me that the place the victims are households of Talibs, the docs are instructed to not report these circumstances. So not all circumstances are being recorded. So really, suicide charges are far greater than official information present. On high of that, many, many docs informed me they had been often overwhelmed and threatened.

On why she needed to give attention to ladies’s rights

When you’ve entrenched patriarchy, you’ve misogyny, and you’ve got excessive charges of violence and sexual violence in opposition to ladies, and you’ve got absolute hypocrisy. And the place there aren’t any ladies’s rights, there aren’t any human rights. Girls’s rights are human rights. And I get actually pissed off whenever you speak about ladies’s rights, and males typically in positions of energy will dismiss ladies’s rights. “Oh, there are extra essential issues to be worrying about. You’ve got bought inside politics and also you’re anxious about ladies’s rights!” We noticed this occur in Iran when the revolution occurred and tons of of hundreds of ladies took to the streets in opposition to the hijab. They had been informed even by liberals and the left wing and the secular, “Get again in your field. Shut up. There is a large revolution happening right here, girls. Now shouldn’t be the time to go on in regards to the hijab and girls’s rights.”

And that is completely incorrect, as a result of ladies’s rights is a litmus take a look at for human rights, is a litmus take a look at of excellent governance, of how a society is secure and runs itself. And that is what I discover deeply miserable, is that we’re informed that it isn’t fascinating, that it isn’t essential, and it is vital.

Amy Salit and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper tailored it for the net.

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