Saturday, January 28

“The Taliban are interested in the West putting the focus on women”

  • The former vice president of the National Assembly of Afghanistan denounces the lack of a unified position at the international level against the government of the Islamist group

Fawzia Koofi (Badakhsán, Afghanistan, 1975) was the first woman to hold the vice presidency of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. Now, more than a year after the Taliban came to power, she is one of the strongest voices fighting for the rights of Afghan women in exile. Her struggle, recognized by multiple awards such as the Casa Asia Award, has earned her threats and attacks that have put her life in danger on many occasions.

With the Taliban government, Afghanistan has become a really dangerous place to be a woman and an activist. Are there still opponents protesting from within?

Yes and his fight is the most important. Protesting in the streets is very dangerous and that there are still demonstrations is the greatest victory there is. Recently we have seen demonstrations of women in different parts of the country that the Taliban have tried to disperse with gunfire.

It’s been a year since you were forced to leave your native Afghanistan, but you continue to work for your country. What is your role now?

From the outside we try to amplify and support the voices of those people who dare to speak from Afghanistan. We try to establish contacts with personalities, politicians and organizations so that their complaints do not fall on deaf ears and can be specified in concrete actions. We have created platforms to get those messages from people to those who can do something for them.

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Do you think that the Taliban will manage to establish themselves in power as in their first term?

No regressive government with the citizens will be able to be legitimized and will not last because the people will never feel it as their own. The Taliban have based their mandate on the exclusion of women and ethnic and religious minorities from society. That is more than half of the population against it, so in the long run it is unsustainable. They have power by force, but their government has not even been recognized internationally.

Why has no country done anything to avoid his mandate?

The world believed the promises of renewal. They believed the idea they sold of being the ‘Taliban 2.0’. They sold an image of being open to negotiation and more permissive with women’s rights. On the other hand, there is no internationally unified position on how to deal with this government and attention has been diverted to the conflict in Ukraine.

Has the war in Ukraine condemned Afghanistan to silence?

It is very sad to see how the world acts moved by media agendas. What is happening in the Ukraine is horrible, but what has been happening in Afghanistan for a year is also horrible. If attention is not focused on the Taliban, they will act with greater impunity.

Will the Taliban continue to eliminate women’s rights?

Since the Taliban took power, they have been erasing women from public life. But they did not do it with a stroke of the pen, they have been approving regulations little by little. In this way, it seems that international attention is focused on women and gives them the freedom to act with impunity in other areas. The Taliban are interested in the West focusing on women’s rights while hunger, poverty and security problems proliferate, the presence of extremist groups in the country increases or they commit crimes against humanity.

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Is it a strategy?

They are looking where they want to act in other areas, but women suffer the consequences day after day. They have disappeared from the Afghan public space, the Constitution has been suspended and they do not have any rights.

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