‘They’re not going to have mercy on our family’: Fear for women, girls left in Afghanistan

Click to play video: 'A B.C. woman’s fears for women and girls left behind in Afghanistan under Taliban rule'
A B.C. woman’s fears for women and girls left behind in Afghanistan under Taliban rule
There's mounting pressure on the Canadian government to help females left behind escape a regime that's historically stripped them of their basic freedoms. Neetu Garcha reports. – Aug 27, 2021

A B.C. woman with immediate family in Afghanistan says she’s worried every moment of every day that they’ve been captured or killed by the Taliban.

“They’re not going to have mercy on our family, and I want the Canadian government to do something for those who are living here but are mentally in Afghanistan,” Shiba Mohammadi told Global News.

The Burnaby 24 year old’s parents, two brothers and five young sisters are all in hiding. She says she spends all day wondering if they’re still alive.

“I’m worried about my family’s safety. I haven’t slept in the past month or eaten well. I force my body, taking Tylenol or Advil to just get some sleep and to live,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I feel like I’m in a horror movie, I cannot believe this is happening. The Canadian government has the power to do more for Afghans.”

Canada’s rescue mission ended on Thursday when 500 Canadians were flown out of Kabul on an American flight. Mohammadi wants the Canadian government to provide a rapid program to bring families to safety and encourage neighbouring countries to open their borders for Afghans seeking asylum.

She says the Canadian government should have acted sooner.

Shiba Mohammadi’s father-in-law was killed by a stray bullet during heavy fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces on August 8, 2021.
Shiba Mohammadi’s father-in-law was killed by a stray bullet during heavy fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces on August 8, 2021. Submitted

“They knew this was going to happen when the U.S. announced they were going to leave Afghanistan, they should have done more at that time,” she said.

Mohammadi says in recent weeks her father-in-law was killed when a bullet hit his head during the fighting, as the Taliban made its advance across Afghanistan.

Story continues below advertisement

Her cousin, a member of the Afghan military, was then shot to death and his body was burned by the Taliban, she said, adding it’s her female relatives who are most at risk now.

Shiba Mohammadi’s cousin, who she says was brutally killed by the Taliban in July, 2021 because he was a member of the Afghan military.
Shiba Mohammadi’s cousin, who she says was brutally killed by the Taliban in July, 2021 because he was a member of the Afghan military. Submitted

“After that, because of the fighting that was going on, my (16-year-old) sister got injured by a bullet in her leg,” she said.

“I’m picturing this every day — they’re going to be force married to Taliban fighters — or have the picture of them being sex slaves of the Taliban and it’s not just my sisters, every Afghan family that has young girls in their families,” she said.

Mohammadi says only her father can leave their home in Afghanistan to get food and water for her family. When he does, he leaves his smart phone at home worried they’ll trace it back to his relatives and seize it, she said.

Story continues below advertisement
Shiba Mohammadi’s sister who was struck by a bullet in the leg in July of 2021 during fighting between the Taliban and Afghan military. Submitted

“They’re saying the Taliban already asked people to destroy and collect TV’s so people cannot see what’s going on. I heard (from contacts in the Kunduz province) they announced they’re going to collect smart phones so people cannot get in touch with others.”

Mohammadi is a permanent resident who has been in Canada for three years and has lived through two Taliban takeovers in 2016 and 2017.

She says what she’s seeing, and hearing is happening today is even worse.

“I’m hearing they’re knocking on each single door asking for food three times a day and forcing people to feed them during the day,” she said.

“People don’t have food and water for themselves, how are they going to feed terrorists? People have no choice other than to give their dinner, breakfast or lunch to them just to stay alive,.”

Story continues below advertisement
A letter from the Taliban Mohammadi says has been distributed near her home community asking clergy to create lists of girls older than 15 to be married to Taliban fighters. Submitted

Mohammadi says a letter from the Taliban has been handed out near her home community in the last month asking Imams at mosques to create lists of girls aged 15 and older to marry members of the Taliban after their victory over western occupiers, even as Taliban leaders promise they’ve changed.

“They are not changing. We have tons of evidence from the 1990s of how they behaved and how they brutally punished women,” said Friba Rezayee, Executive Director of the non-profit called Women Leaders of Tomorrow and Afghanistan’s first-ever female Olympic athlete.

“The message has changed but they are the same Taliban, I don’t trust them, and nobody should.”

Story continues below advertisement

Rezayee is urging the Canadian government to help get more female athletes out of Afghanistan.

“Given the strict old barbaric Sharia law, women are not allowed to go to school, have a career to sports. Women are strictly prohibited from doing so. The Taliban will go after all women athletes because sport is ‘haram’ (forbidden) according to their Sharia law,” Rezayee said.

Murwarid Ziayee of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan says the situation is dire for women and she’s in touch with several of them.

“They’re crying, they’re changing their location every night so they’re safe, but how long can do that to protect themselves? Women are so worried about their safety, their life, their protection that was promised to them by the international community,” Ziayee said.

She said basic freedoms that women have had for the past two decades are already gone and things will only get worse after the August 31 deadline for U.S. troops to depart.

“There will be a lot of revenge, execution killings, and women’s oppression pushing them back to stay at home denying all their basic rights which they enjoyed for past 20 years,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“These are the first things awaiting Afghans and specifically women when the U.S. troops withdraw.”

Ziayee is calling on the International community to put pressure on the Taliban to open land borders and access to airports to allow those at immediate risk to flee the country.

Mohammadi says she feels helpless.

She has contacted her local MP (at the dissolution of parliament) Jagmeet Singh, Canadian Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada as well as the Prime Minister’s office, the latter the only one that has responded.

“I recognize why you have written to the Prime Minister,” an email from a representative of the PMO said in part.

“While I sympathize with the situation you describe, I hope you will understand that he is unable to personally intervene or provide you with direct assistance in this matter.”

Sponsored content