A former prosecutor says she feels like a prisoner in her own home.
Sadia has moved house and has changed her number several times for her safety.
Sadia, not her real name, was born and raised in Kabul. Before the Taliban’s ascent to power, she had a successful career as a defence lawyer, handling cases concerning female victims of domestic violence. After this she worked as a prosecutor, where she dealt with high-profile security and political cases.
Sadia shares her story and despair with Afghan Witness (AW) as, with the Taliban's re-emergence, she can no longer go to work. “Before the Taliban, life went very well. I went to work every day with enthusiasm,” she says. “After the Taliban came, my other female colleagues and I have been imprisoned inside our houses and lost our income.”
Sadia told AW that after the Taliban’s return, herself and other female colleagues had initially gone to their workplace to ‘check-in’, but each time Taliban authorities had turned them away, saying that they needed to segregate women’s and men’s offices and that they would call them back to work when this had been arranged.
Sadia’s pay is irregular and low: in a four-month period, she was paid just once. As well as grappling with the economic challenges and being unable to support her family, Sadia tells AW that she fears for her life, having faced threats and received warnings even before the Taliban’s return to power. Sadia says she is more fearful than ever, and has even changed her phone number several times due to "threats from unknown numbers".
“The Taliban have freed hundreds of criminals from prisons whose cases my colleagues and I handled," she says. In an attempt to protect herself further, Sadia has relocated from her family home. She tells AW that unless necessary, she doesn’t leave the house, and if she does, she wears a niqab to cover her face and conceal her identity.
Since the evacuation efforts began in mid-August 2021, some vulnerable women such as former journalists, activists, government employees, and judges have been evacuated to other countries. However, Sadia says that only a small number of women prosecutors and defence lawyers were able to leave Afghanistan. She tells AW that she has contacted her previous employer - an international NGO - and asked them to assist in her evacuation. “They rejected and said that they could only evacuate their current employees,” she says.
Throughout her career, Sadia has helped women. Now she is living in a society where even women’s basic rights are restricted. “The future seems bleak,” she tells AW. Even though she is
living with fear, poverty and despair, Sadia says she hopes the international community and women’s rights groups will help her and other women in danger to relocate to a safe place outside of Afghanistan.
Interview by Afghan Witness