A young Afghan woman has quit her job at a foreign language center in Kabul after she says she faced threats and harassment from Taliban fighters who were outside the building where she had her office.
The 24-year-old English teacher – whose identity has not been made public for security reasons – returned to work last week after the offices reopened for the first time since the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital on May 15. August.
“I was excited to go to work after staying home for three weeks,” she said.
“I put on Islamic clothes and went to work, but the moment I got there I was insulted by Taliban fighters who were standing at the entrance,” the 24-year-old said.
The teacher said the Taliban were armed and were guarding the commercial building, which houses dozens of companies and offices, in one of the populated neighborhoods in central Kabul.
“When I tried to enter my office, one of them asked me, ‘Where are you going?’ i told him i work here. He said ‘who told you to come? “Come home soon,” she told Radio Free Europe.
The English teacher says she was particularly concerned when Taliban militants called her “infidel”.
“One of them said, ‘Look, she works in the place where they learn the language of the unbelievers, so she is an unbeliever.’ “Yes, they called me an infidel even though I was wearing an Islamic hijab.”
Terrified by the comments of the gunmen, she decided to quit her job immediately.
Other harassment and insults she also experienced from other Taliban fighters who were standing on the streets in central Kabul. As she passed by them, she was confronted with questions from the militants as to why she had taken to the streets herself.
In some provinces, the Taliban have reportedly barred women from leaving the house unless accompanied by a family man.
Such demands have not yet been made public for women living in Kabul. But the English teacher says the Taliban militants told her, “What the hell are you doing, just walking outside?”
Two days after taking control of Kabul, the Taliban said women would be allowed to return to work “according to Islamic norms.” However, a Taliban spokesman said women should stay at home for now because, according to him, Taliban fighters were not “trained” to respect women.
No woman is part of the Taliban interim government. But senior Taliban officials said female employees, who have worked in various ministries, would be allowed to continue their work.
But the English teacher, who was forced to quit her job, says the Taliban’s promises are false. She does not believe the Taliban government really wants women to have careers.
“The Taliban’s claims that they will allow women to work are just lies to the international community in order to receive aid. “When the Taliban get what they want from the outside world, it will all end.”
The teacher points out that three women in her company had also experienced similar insults and threats from the Taliban when they attempted to go to work. According to her, all three women quit their jobs due to threats.
Speaking from Kabul, the teacher told Radio Free Europe that she was “too scared” to return to work.
“I was a worker, sometimes I stayed in the office until 20:00 or I worked even on weekends,” she says. “All my efforts, all that hard work, my education, in the end, are worthless.”
The English teacher says she fears she will never be able to work or walk freely alone on the streets until the Taliban are in power in Afghanistan.
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