Until the US-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban previously ruled Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, little liberty was provided for its people, particularly women. The historically oppressive rule has understandably sparked widespread fear as the Taliban moved across Afghanistan after US troops began withdrawing from the country. The withdrawal of US troops created an unstable power vacuum, explaining the Taliban’s rapid return to power.
Since taking the capital, Kabul, reports have emerged from the Wall Street Journal explaining that ‘Taliban commanders have demanded that communities turn over unmarried women to become “wives” for their fighters’. The New York Times highlighted further human rights violations as girls education is banned and women are becoming excluded from public life.
It is important in this crisis which is often shared by countries, to recognise the role of the invading forces. Hasan Sari from the Byline Times points out that the US, rather than provide their promise of building a stable democracy, ‘instead built a rootless, corrupt and dysfunctional Afghan government that remained completely dependent on the White House and the US military power for its survival.’ The Afghan people have historically had little say in the rule of their country, with Western forces primarily invading, then leaving unstable power systems behind.
Now is the time to educate yourself, amplify the voices of the Afghan people, and follow the actions which can be done now. Remember you can act outside of the polls for political change by contacting your local MP and government. Do not glorify or idolise your politicians and government’s mentalities that cause such tragedy, as Western powers cause devastation and leave countries in precarious states. This is not a time to adopt a saviour mindset because your government is opening its borders – that is the very least it can do after perpetuating a country’s collapse.
What you can do is listen. Raise awareness of what is happening in Afghanistan to your friends and family, and educate yourself about the ongoing situation. The history of Afghanistan and its invasions which included powers of the US, Russia, and Britain is a complex issue, but that does not simply mean you cannot learn something. The nuanced history cannot be covered in one Instagram infographic or social media post, but online resources are available as starting points for educating.
Find your local protest to show support in numbers for Afghanistan:
These Instagram accounts share resources and updates on both Afghanistan and wider issues in the Middle East: @middleeastmatters , @theafghan , @hazara.gram share infographics and understandable information on current situations which can easily be shared to your story to reach a wider audience.
@khyberkhaan is a photographer and filmmaker, born in Afghanistan and now based in the UK.
@omar.haidari is a student and human rights activist, currently between Afghanistan and Germany
@nee1o is shares resources and holds discussions on the current situation of Afghanistan.
@rustamwahab is providing daily updates and is the owner & admin of @ukfactcheckpolitics
@emilieadelinamonies and others have compiled a spreadsheet with ways to support Afghanistan and links for further details on each organisation.
This short video describes the story of Anisa Shaheed, an Afghan journalist whose gender means she risks her life every day for her job.
This opinion piece was written recently by an anonymous 20-year-old woman in Kabul and shines a light on her experience – click here to read.
Written by award-winning social affairs journalist, Maryam Nabavi offers another first-person perspective on the experience of women in Kabul – click here to read.
Inside the Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan by Vice News
How the US failed to rebuild Afghanistan by Vox
Fatimah Hossaini is a fashion photographer in Afghanistan, her pictures push the boundaries of what is seen as acceptable behaviour for women.
Words by Caitlin Sahin