A protest against the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in Athens, Greence
(image: Afghan who live in Greece take part in a protest over Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, in Athens on August 18, 2021)

Here Is What’s Happening In Afghanistan and How To Help People There

This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information
(image: Afghan who live in Greece take part in a protest over Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, in Athens on August 18, 2021
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Unlike many a newly-minted Twitter pundit, I do not claim to be an expert on Afghanistan. When the U.S. first invaded in 2001, I was not yet ten years old, and the war has dragged on, too often without much national conversation on events there, for most of my life. Like many people in the days since the dramatic fall of cities in Afghanistan to the Taliban and the collapse of the government, I am learning and researching, trying to understand what is going on and how I and others watching from afar can help.

In doing so, I’ll be sharing resources and information about what is happening at current, and what actions we can take. Women, religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, human rights workers, and people who worked with the U.S. forces for years are in particular danger in Afghanistan right now. The situation is fluid and changing, but we’ve tried to compile some resources for those who want a better view of what’s been emerging on social media and ways to contribute your own time and/or money to different causes.

Female reporters were taken off the air on TV in Afghanistan briefly but some have returned to their presenting positions.

But the situation for many women, especially those in the public eye, remains dire.

There is widespread “fear and despair,” in the words of Dublin-based journalist and activist Razan Ibraheem.

Atrocities are being reported by people on the ground.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban nearly a decade ago in Pakistan for her public advocating for women’s rights and education for women, spoke with 5 Minutes On about her concerns for people living in Afghanistan currently. She also penned a recent Washington Post op-ed about her fear for Afghanistan’s women.

The women of Afghanistan are frightened of what the Taliban rule means and fear “a dark future.” Nasreen Sultani is the principal of Sardar-e-Kabuli Girls High School in Kabul and has spent years fighting for the rights of her students. She now is afraid of what the future holds for the women of her school and the country. Talking with NBC News, she said, “I am very sad. When I see all these girls, I get really upset now.” This came a week before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, leaving the Taliban to seize control.

As NBC News explains, the fear is that the Taliban will impose a stricter interpretation of Islam that limits the rights of women and others. “Sultani is one of many Afghan women in leadership roles who say they fear a return to Taliban rule will also spell a return to its austere and harsh interpretation of Islam, which long severely restricted women’s rights until the U.S.-led toppling of the regime in 2001.”

The Taliban’s former rule had blocked girls from attending school and women were largely barred from “appearing in public without full body coverings and male escorts.” If the Taliban’s rules were violated, women faced “flogging in public and execution.”

While this time around, the Taliban are claiming that they will write rules that allow women to have public lives, the rightful fear and uncertainty is still there for the women and other groups at risk in Afghanistan.

“Women in Afghanistan are the most at danger or most at-risk population of the country,” said Fawzia Koofi, a women’s rights activist, former lawmaker, and member of the Afghan delegation who was working to negotiate peace with the Taliban prior to the U.S. Military’s withdrawal, and said that women felt betrayed.

There are also reports of threats made against religious minorities in Afghanistan.

Here is a list of resources and how you can help those being impacted by the Taliban. We’ve further compiled some Tweets from trustworthy sources and efforts worldwide. There are many ways to assist both those who are still in Afghanistan in addition to refugees who have left the country.

Please share any additional resources or organizations you know that are doing this vital work in the comments below and I will continue to update this piece.

(image: ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / Contributor via Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.