The fall of Kabul to the Taliban has sparked chaos and bloodshed throughout Afghanistan. And while the Taliban has claimed it will oversee a peaceful transition—one in which women will supposedly have rights under Sharia law—two female Afghan journalists living in the capital city told The Daily Beast that all they’ve witnessed thus far is violence.
One female journalist in her 40s, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution from the new regime, described attempting to flee with her family to Kabul’s airport on Thursday only to witness a horror show.
“I saw a woman lost her life there at the airport,” she recounted. “There was gunfire... from the Taliban side. Horrible situation… My 12-year-old nephew was crying from the gunshots. He said, ‘Why are they messing with my country?’”
She continued: “Taliban is being very harsh at the airport to people. They harassed and beat a man in front of me. My nephew cried, ‘Why are they beating him?’”
Another one of her nephews, a 14-year-old, was targeted by the Taliban for not wearing conservative enough attire in public, the journalist said. Taliban militants “beat my 14-year-old nephew yesterday. He had worn short clothes like this and gone from bringing bread from outside. They had seen him and beaten him like this."
The journalist shared photographs of the teenaged boy, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, with cuts and bruises on parts of his face and body. The Daily Beast will not publish the images at his family’s request, out of concerns over future reprisals from the Taliban.
“I hate these people,” the woman said of the Taliban. “It’s a disaster, and there’s going to be more tragedy.”
Another Kabul-based female journalist, who is in her 20s, relayed stories of how the “Taliban is beating girls and boys even while sitting in a park. They say you don't have the right of getting out of your house.” A young woman “wore pants and they beat her,” the journalist said, “they told her she has to wear a burqa.”
She continued: “They say they want peace then doing something else in reality. They don’t want people to leave their home. Telling outside people they want peace, [but] they’re searching home by home at night and killing those who worked for the [U.S.-allied] government.” The BBC reported on Thursday that the group has, indeed, begun a “highly organized manhunt” for former U.S. collaborators.
Both women relayed their feelings of terror and uncertainty over what the Taliban may do to them. “I’m deleting every message. They might find me. I worked with the government. They will kill me—not might, they will kill me,” said the younger journalist. “I’ve tried many times to get out. Many people are dying at the airport. If I leave my house they will follow me and kill me. They know me.”
The elder journalist, who noted that she has deleted her social-media profiles for fear of being tracked, added: “It is hard for me to find words. They sent a letter to me to tell me to stop my work. I don’t know what will happen next. I’m trying to get out, but not alone. My whole family—I was working as a journalist—my family is not safe. I can't just save myself. They are in danger.”
She declared that she has “lost everything,” adding: “I can’t go outside. I used to go for a walk at night with my sister. I cannot even go to get ice cream.” She said she’d been told that “over the age of 15, the Taliban is going to begin marrying women… They could take our daughters away and marry them.”
Ultimately, the two women are resigned to a future of brutality in the wake of the United States military’s exit from their war torn country.
“It will get more violent,” the woman in her 40s said. “The United States has failed our community. The last twenty years they occupied our country and now they left our country. They allowed us to see and live a different way, then they left us without help.”
And the younger journalist is prepared to battle the new regime. “We have to fight against the Taliban for our freedom even if the United States won’t fight with us,” she said.
“I won’t accept it, even if I die. We have to fight.”