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U.S. withdrawal puts freedoms for Afghan women in peril

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President Biden has underlined his plan to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. The effort begins in May and in the absence of U.S. forces, the Taliban is poised to extend its reach across the country, reversing the gains of women in Afghanistan.  

For the past 20 years, Kabul has become a place where women can walk freely, where they’re not forced to wear the burka or be accompanied by a male relative — those basic freedoms may soon be under threat once the U.S. withdraws.

Earlier this month, a video shared online showed a woman was brutally beaten by the Taliban: forty lashes over accusations of adultery. CBS News verified the incident took place late last year in Herat Province — an example of what’s already happening in Taliban-controlled areas.

Zarifa Ghafari, the 27-year-old mayor of Maidan Shar, knows the Taliban’s cruel methods all too well. Her father was gunned down outside his home in Kabul. “I never kissed him. I never hugged him. It was so hard,” she told CBS News, wiping a tear from her eye. 

Ghafari is the youngest mayor in the country and one of the only women to hold that position. She has survived three assassination attempts. “They started shooting from back this way, this way, this way, and then from in front, they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot,” she recalled. “Just twenty days later, they murdered my dad.” 

Zarifa Ghafari

CBS News

The U.S. has sought assurances that the Taliban won’t re-impose strict Islamic law. Like many women, Ghafari dreads what’s to come: “They are not changed. Trusting them will once again be a big mistake.”

Afghanistan is bracing for a further backlash. Mr. Biden may have extended that U.S. troop pullout to September 11, but that was rejected by the Taliban, warning there will be consequences.



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