Coloradans with Afghanistan ties worry about the fate of women under Taliban rule

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — It is one of the lingering questions as the U.S. ends its role in the so-called “forever war,” our 20-year battle in Afghanistan: what will become of the women in that country?

Their fate seems especially perilous since the Taliban reclaimed power in recent days, raising fears of their previous regime, which forbade women from working, voting, showing their face and even leaving the house without a male relative.

“I don’t have a good feeling with the current situation, what’s going on,” Sohaila Fariyar told FOX31.

Beauticians apply makeup on customers at Ms. Sadat’s Beauty Salon in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 25, 2021. Kabul’s young working women say they fear their dreams may be short-lived if the Taliban return to Kabul, even if peacefully as part of a new government. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Fariyar was born in Afghanistan but moved with her family to Pakistan at age nine to avoid civil war. The family returned to Afghanistan 10 years later — in 2002, after U.S. troops arrived and after the Taliban fell.

“(The) U.S. presence was positive for Afghanistan. We had a free media. We had women in politics. That was a big change, and in most of our neighboring countries, we don’t have that,” Fariyar said.

Schools reopened, infrastructure was built, and a military and police presence was put in to place. They were sea changes from the mayhem that existed under Taliban rule, and she says they never would have happened without help from the U.S.

“(The Taliban) will take back Afghanistan to 1995, 1996 — what they did before,” she said.

‘Afghanistan still needs help’

Fariyar is one of the lucky ones. She now lives in the U.S., in Colorado Springs, under an SIV or Special Immigrant Visa, obtained through her work at the US Embassy in Afghanistan. But for those left behind in her country, she has deep concerns following the US military decision to get out.

“This was a quick decision. Afghanistan still needs help,” She said.

They’re concerns shared by retired U.S. Army officer Rebecca Monaco, who now calls Colorado home.

“While we were there, the United States, we were able to facilitate a lot of great things for women,” Monaco told FOX31.

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Kandahar, southwest Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Sidiqullah Khan)

She helped train Afghan partner forces — including women, teaching them everything from how to drive military vehicles to how to speak English. And she says for the first time, they were empowered.

“I’m worried that it’s going to turn from hey, women are having power here, educated, they’re making a difference in their country, to women are going to become simply property again. And a lot of women are going to be flat out executed. You have Afghan female journalists and doctors who have already been targeted and killed this past year,” she said.

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