Disturbing video footage showing Afghan women begging United States soldiers to take them out of the country emerged on Wednesday, two days after the Taliban entered the Afghanistan’s capital city and took power once again.
The footage shows women in hijabs, crying out piteously, straining against bars which separate them from US soldiers in combat gear at what may be the airport.
Thousands of Afghans streamed onto the grounds of the capital city’s airport on Monday, with many running in front of a giant C-17 cargo aircraft that was trying to take off.
The women in the video are heard desperately begging the soldiers to take them away from the country, crying out “Taliban coming! Taliban coming!”
Some men even clung onto the wheel wells of the cargo plane on Monday; three were seen falling off from a great height after the aircraft gained altitude. There were a total of seven people who died at Hamid Karzai National Airport that day, including several men who US soldiers say were brandishing weapons after breaking the walls of the airport.
Taliban Assures World, Afghan Public of “Respect for Women’s Rights”
On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gave his first news conference, after serving as a relatively unknown figure for years as the Taliban had been out of power but nipping at the heels of the Western forces as they maintained a shaky peace in the country.
Mujahid vowed that the Taliban would respect women’s rights, as well as give amnesty to all those who had resisted them and ensure a secure Afghanistan.
He also pledged that the country would not become a haven for foreign militants and terrorists, as it had done prior to September 11, 2001, when Al Qaeda forces had been given free rein to plot their terror attacks.
The Taliban had imposed an extraordinarily strict form of Islamic rule in the late 1990s, after they gained power, with stories of mass executions and beheadings rampant until the US and other Western powers took control soon after the terror attacks in the US.
Afghan Women’s Rights will be Honored “Within the Norms of Islamic Law”
In his remarks, Mujahid promised that the Taliban would honor women’s rights “within the norms of Islamic law,” however, giving no further elaboration on that concept. There are numerous reports of Taliban fighters gong door-to-door this week, demanding that families give them their unmarried daughters over the age of 12 and widows up to 45 for “marriage” to fighters.
This would amount to sexual slavery; however, Islam considers women may be used as “the spoils of war,” according to some interpretations.
Meanwhile, publicly, the Taliban have encouraged the women of the country to return to work and have even allowed girls to return to school, while handing out hijabs for them to wear at the door.
US Officials State They Will Not take Taliban at Its Word
The Associated Press reports that a female news anchor even interviewed a Taliban official on Monday in a television studio.
The treatment of women varies widely across the Muslim world and sometimes even within the same country, with rural areas tending to be far more conservative. Some Muslim countries, including Pakistan, have even had female prime ministers, while ultraconservative Saudi Arabia only recently allowed women to drive.
Pentagon officials state that U.S. commanders are communicating with the Taliban as they work to evacuate thousands of people through the Kabul airport. It said the Taliban so far has taken no hostile actions there. Elsewhere in the capital, the Associated Press says that the former police forces of the capital have “melted away.”
Indicative of the tense atmosphere for female in Afghanistan is the situation of a broadcaster, who said she is now in hiding at a relative’s house, too frightened to even return to her home — much less return to work.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety, she stated to the Associated Press that she and other women do not believe the Taliban have changed their ways.
A group of women wearing Islamic headscarves demonstrated briefly this week in Kabul, holding signs demanding that the Taliban not “eliminate women” from public life, as elsewhere a man was seen whitewashing over an advertisement in a shop window showing wedding dresses.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan averred that the U.S. and other governments will not simply take the Taliban at their word when it comes to women’s rights.
“Like I’ve said all along, this is not about trust. This is about verify,” Sullivan said at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “And we’ll see what the Taliban end up doing in the days and weeks ahead — and when I say we, I mean the entire international community.”