In a viral video, a young woman in Afghanistan weeps over the future now that the Taliban has taken over.
As the United States continued withdrawing over the weekend, the Taliban rapidly seized control of the nation’s capital. Chaos ensued. Thousands fled, including senior members of the U.S.-supported democratic government. Thousands more left behind face an uncertain and potentially grim future. Women may suffer the most.
Immigration and gender equality advocates have long feared what would happen to Afghan women should the Taliban resume control of the overwhelmingly Muslim nation. The last time it ruled, women and girls were deprived basic rights and essentially lived as prisoners in their own homes. They were required to cover themselves head-to-toe in public and could be sentenced to death by stoning for infractions such as infidelity.
The U.S. invasion in 2001 ushered in an era of more expansive rights. Women were once again allowed to travel independently, attend school, have jobs, and hold office.
A Taliban spokesperson reportedly insisted that no one will be hurt as it assumes power. “No one’s life, property, and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” he said.
In spite of such assurances, reports are already surfacing of revenge killings, rapes, and forced “marriages.”
On Friday, Iranian journalist/activist Masih Alinejad tweeted the video of the young woman speaking of her anguish over what’s to come. The woman’s words are translated and captioned in English. The woman, who is reportedly 23 years old, is not identified by name.
“We don’t count because we were born in Afghanistan,” she says, tears streaming down her face. “I cannot help crying. I have to wipe my tears to be able to film this video.”
“No one cares about us. We’ll die slowly in history. Isn’t it funny?”
The video has been watched 2 million times.
Many were haunted by the pigtailed young woman’s words.
“What is happening in Afghanistan is one of the biggest tragedies facing the world right now. Why are we not all united in confronting this gross violation of human rights and violence against women and girls?” tweeted @yourdiversity.
Some who sympathized with the woman felt that the U.S. faces a difficult choice between staying indefinitely or leaving and letting Afghanistan sort out its own affairs. It’s been nearly two decades since the U.S. invaded to take on al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, thousands of Americans have died in a war and occupation that’s cost at least $1 trillion.
Public support for occupying Afghanistan has grown increasingly thin in recent years. Many Americans now feel that Afghanistan is its own problem, not theirs.
“Serious question—how long can Afghanistan expect a foreign country to keep it together? It was only delaying the inevitable,” tweeted @walterborghi. “But I do feel very sad for the people in Afghanistan who want freedom especially the women.”
On Monday, Alinejad tweeted that she had interviewed the young woman and would soon post it.
“This time we cried together but she promised me to stay strong and powerful. She’s only 23 years old, full of pain and anger.”