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As Situation in Afghanistan Gets Worse, Feminists Still Help Afghan Women Escape

Amidst abductions, murders and famine, feminists have been supporting their Afghan counterparts in multiple ways.

Phyllis Chesler
Phyllis Chesler

This post is part of an ongoing series of reports on the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and its impact on women by feminist author Phyllis Chesler.

Read More | Donate to the Afghan Feminist Refugee Fund


Just when you think things cannot possibly get any worse—they invariably do.

As I reported previously, starving Afghan families are selling their three-year-old daughters to strangers for a few months' worth of food.

Now, criminals and smugglers are allegedly offering to buy Afghan kidneys, and eyes, as well as any other disposable (or even non-disposable) human organ. I have been told that some criminals simply take such organs by force. According to one woman, the prices presumably range from 10,000 Afghanis for an eye; 5000 Afg for a fresh kidney; 15,000 Afg for a child.

But let’s not forget the Afghan feminists who are still in hiding. Those with whom we are in touch know that the Taliban have been systematically killing feminists—and by feminists, they mean any woman who is educated and has had a career, (a judge, lawyer, police officer, print journalist, television broadcaster, small business owner); whose face is known from demonstrations and on social media; or, who are athletes, singers, poets, gay, or dissidents in any way.

One woman was about to publish her book just after the Taliban came into power. Now, she must shred every last copy lest it be used as evidence against her.

Frozan Safi, women's rights activist murdered by Taliban

The women say: “The situation is so much scary, everything is getting worse day by day.”

The women say: “The poor people of Afghanistan, we have such bad luck.”

The women say: “Be careful about receiving phone calls that offer to evacuate you. It could be the Taliban, trying to get you.”

Last week, one woman’s rights activist was kidnapped and shot to death by the Taliban. Actually, four women activists were kidnapped and then found dead. Frozan Safi was one of them, may she rest in peace.

Another woman stood in the street to protest this and posted photos of herself on social media.

Her friends in hiding begged her to stay “safe at home” because “the time of barbarism has begun. I know we should raise our voices but the situation is too dangerous. So, if you want to stay alive, stop protesting.”


Thank you, President Biden. But also, thank you Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump. Every single President has blood on their hands—but so does every single Pakistani leader who unleashed the Afghan Taliban as surely as America unleashed the Mujahideen, the forerunners to the Taliban. And let’s not forget the Arab and Iranian leaders whose greed, corruption, hypocrisy, and support for terrorism easily matched that of Afghanistan’s leaders.

America went to Iraq when we should have gone to nuclear-armed Pakistan. Enough said. Syria? Don’t even get me started.

But those who love to blame America first must also acknowledge that Arab, North African, Central Asian, and Far East Muslim countries have not, and never have extended particularly warm hands towards their endangered brethren. It is truly astounding. Even now, the Afghan refugees in camps in the Middle East are not being allowed to enter that country or begin a path towards citizenship there. We have been told that sexual assaults are taking place in these camps.

It makes sense to separate predatory, sex-starved, extremely misogynist men from women, not only in refugee camps, but also in women’s prisons and shelters in the West.

The Judeo-Christian tradition has taught us to reach out to the stranger at our gates, not to turn aside when other human beings are being crushed or slaughtered.

Well—this didn’t help the Jews of Europe or North Africa, did it? And today, these values are not helping the persecuted and ethnically cleansed Christians in the Middle East either. No one, including the Pope, is coming to their aid. I guess our most prized Western value of compassionate activism does not always apply to everyone.

The Afghan women in hiding are so appreciative of our team’s remaining connected to them, trying to embolden them, keeping them company during a time of terror, as we work on getting them out, one by one by one.

The women say: “We appreciate all your efforts and will never forget you.”

The women say: “Not only us but the history of humanity will remember your team’s efforts and hard work.”

It is a rare privilege to be part of such a team, to be connected to such brave women who are so far away.

Afghanistan

Phyllis Chesler

Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology, the author of 20 books, including Women and Madness (1972), An American Bride in Kabul, and Requiem For a Female Serial Killer (2020).