Unstoppable: Afghan women fight for their rights a year after Taliban victory

An event dedicated to the year-long resistance of Afghan women against the Taliban regime took place in Sofia.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban overran Kabul, toppling the government of Ashraf Ghani and restoring the Taliban state, the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The LevFem Collective marked the sad anniversary with the event “Unstoppable: the women of Afghanistan fighting for their rights”, organised in collaboration with the autonomous feminist space collective Nettle, who hosted the discussion.

As a woman, I will not stop talking about women’s rights, because women who do not have access to education and to work remain only someone’s daughters, then someone’s wives, and finally someone’s mothers. And that remains the only thing in their lives.

Silsila Mahbub

The event was hosted by Silsila Mahbub, an Afghan living in Bulgaria. She is a prominent activist and campaigner for the rights of refugees and migrants in the country and has a long experience of working with various human rights organisations. Silsila Mahbub briefed the audience on what has been happening in Afghanistan over the past year and drew particular attention to the constant attacks on women’s rights by the Taliban regime.

As with the previous Taliban victory in 1994, the same anti-women policies have been seen in recent months, including restricting women’s right to education and work, restricting women’s right to leave their homes and travel, to use taxis, to go out without a muharram. The compulsory wearing of the full hijab by women has been reintroduced. Again, the right to form political parties and organisations has been eliminated, and music and the fine arts have been severely restricted.

“I am here, but my heart is in Afghanistan. I feel sad for the women who have worked and fought for their rights for a long time and are now back in the darkest days of their lives. I am here, far away from this, but we will not stop raising our voice outside the country because they need our help and support because we all have the right to be free and enjoy our human rights,” said Silsila.

The event was attended by 30 people.

Her inclusion was followed by a discussion on the problems of Afghans in Bulgaria and the EU and steps that can be taken to alleviate their situation. The activities of various collectives were highlighted as positive examples, including Antifa Bulgaria, Food Not War, Refugee Women’s Council, etc.

Cover photo: Silsila Mahbub speaking.

The text has been first published in Bulgarian on the LevFem website.

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