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'Taliban Issued Warrant to Hang Me': Woman Who Fled Afghanistan for India Shares Her Experience

© Sputnik / Deexa Khanduri Farzaneh A
Farzaneh A - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.08.2021
After 20 years, on 15 August, Taliban fighters regained control over Afghanistan. The Taliban had previously ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. Everyone faced restrictions under their conservative interpretation of Islam, but the ones imposed on women were the most stringent. Those who flouted the rules were whipped in public or stoned to death.
Having escaped a life of hardship by leaving a husband who turned out to be a Taliban* fighter, Farzaneh A (name changed) today lives in Delhi. She decided to run away with two of her three daughters after the eldest one was sold off by him to a Talib friend.
Presently in her late thirties, Farzaneh arrived in India in 2017 along with her daughters. Today, she earns her livelihood as a gym coach.
In an interview with Sputnik, she stated that Taliban rule should also be viewed as a return to a harsh interpretation of Islam for women. 
Sputnik: What made you marry a Taliban militant in the first place? How was it spending daily life with him in Afghanistan?
Farzaneh A: I got married at a very young age. My family married me to a man we didn’t know very well. But it wasn’t a good match. I came to know that my husband was a Taliban fighter after the birth of our second daughter.
Violence was the norm in our marriage, he attacked my head, neck and fingers with a knife when I questioned him why he sold our daughter. Once, he also burned part of my shoulder with a heated iron rod.  
Sputnik: Why didn't you opt to divorce him instead of fleeing your homeland?  
Farzaneh A: The word “divorce” doesn’t exist in Afghanistan. Even in normal conditions, if a woman thinks of divorce in our country, she is considered untouchable. The societies in Afghanistan are patriarchal and deeply conservative.
Women who seek divorce are often disowned by their families and shunned by Afghan society. Left alone, they have to fight for their basic rights, such as renting an apartment, which requires involvement or guarantees from male relatives. 
Moreover, divorced women don’t have any rights to their children. I fled my country to save my two daughters. My husband sold my oldest daughter when she was 10 years old for half a million Indian rupees ($6,740). After that, they said that they would forcefully take away my daughters too; I had no options. 
Sputnik: Fleeing Afghanistan must not have been that easy. How did you manage to flee the country despite your share of challenges? 
Farzaneh A: We used to live in the rural part of Herat city (Herat Province). My husband used to be out most of the time. I learnt Hindi by watching Bollywood movies.
Meanwhile, I also tried to connect with people known to me who had already taken shelter in India. I sold my gold jewellery; my friends and family members also helped me after they learned about my situation.
Sputnik: All these years, did you ever think of one day returning to Afghanistan? As the Taliban has returned, what do you foresee happening there for ordinary people?  
Farzaneh A: Now, we can’t think of going back to Afghanistan, which I fled four years ago. After I left the place without the knowledge of my husband, the Taliban issued a death warrant against me. Today, that fear of death seems to get closer to me. 
At this point, our situation in India is better than any Afghani living back in our country. 
I’m worried about my country and have always thought of going back to Afghanistan, but now it’s better to die here. Things for women will only worsen there. Me and my daughters will never be able to revisit Afghanistan. We have no hope left now. I feel like a citizen of nowhere. 
Even if I think about going back to Afghanistan, there is no future for women under the Taliban. The situation will only deteriorate.
These people are monsters. They are saying that civilians are safe now. But it's an utter lie. I'm in touch with my family and acquaintances, all of them are living in fear. The situation is so volatile and uncertain; they'll take revenge on Afghani citizens too for not supporting them. 
Sputnik: Earlier, the Afghanistan embassy in India was helping you; you used to visit every month for documentation. What will happen now? 
Farzaneh A: We have no idea. We don’t think that the Indian government will repatriate us. But how will we live here without proper documents? We are trying to connect with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for appropriate documentation, financial aid, etc. But without valid documents, we can’t get appropriate jobs in India. 
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