An Afghan doctor: “The decline is all the more violent as it is insidious”

After her medical studies, Soheila (not her real name for security reasons), in her thirties, first worked at the public hospital in Mazar-e Charif, in the Afghan province of Balkh. , before finding a better job in a private clinic in town.

When you walk around Mazar-e Charif, you don’t see scenes of harassment of women like when the Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001. Have they changed?

No, the decline is deeper than it seems and it is all the more violent because it is insidious and occurs when the country has nothing to do with the one the Taliban ruled between 1996 and 2001 Because the regression is not limited to the question of wearing a burqa or not or of being allowed to go to the market. It is all of our movements that are restricted and our access to work that is hampered. To come see you, I had to come with my 4 year old son so as not to have to undergo interrogation as to why I was alone in town. The return of the Taliban means the strict application of the mahram [qui impose à une femme d’être accompagnée dans ses déplacements par un membre masculin de sa famille]. It is a constant pressure.

Read the report: The American dream on hold for hundreds of Afghans trapped in Mazar-e Charif

But you have returned to work, doesn’t that correspond to the commitments of the Taliban?

When I go to work, I go alone. But my family is worried, they phone me five to ten times a day to find out if I haven’t been arrested. The fear of being questioned in the streets by the Taliban, of being held to account and of being punished is constant. They will blame me for not staying home and coming to work despite the statements they are making nationally.

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In my work, I know that my prospects are now reduced, while I am educated and my expertise as a doctor is recognized. Without saying it formally, their system means that I cannot go and work in another province. Under the previous government, so criticized, these restrictions on movement in our personal and professional lives did not exist. And, today, we do not have the right to protest against the fate that has been done to us. Around me, most of my friends with advanced studies think the same thing, but this demand for freedom is unfortunately limited according to your level of education and your geographical origin, urban or rural, the gap is deep.

The Taliban claim to respect the rights of everyone according to the laws of Islam …

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