Afghan Women: “We Shouldn’t Have To Ask Babies And Mothers Not Be Killed”

In an op-ed published on NPR, three Afghan women’s rights leaders once again raised their voices against the ongoing atrocities committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In it, Mary Akrami, Mahbooba Seraj and Wazhma Frogh share their concerns and frustrations—especially on the crimes committed against the Afghan women at a maternity hospital last week in Kabul. Twenty-four people were killed in this attack, including 14 pregnant and new mothers, women in labor, and two newborn babies.

The op-ed makes one simple demand:

“We are asking that our children and newborn babies not be killed in their beds, in schools or in maternity wards, never once having drawn a breath in safety. Our children are being born into this violence and dying in this violence.”

Akrami, Seraj and Frogh call on global leaders and institutions, “who have power and influence—the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the heads of state of the European Union, NATO and President Trump—to stop allowing Afghan lives to be used as pawns at the negotiating table. The time for posturing and pontification is over.”


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Afghan women have repeatedly asked for a ceasefire especially during the month of Ramadan and once again ask global leaders to “come together and do everything in your power to push for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan.”

These women leaders call the current peace process a “farce,” because of the ongoing “brutality and killings” of people across the country from the maternity wards to funeral processions.

Since the signing of the so-called peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, the Taliban has conducted over 3,800 attacks against the Afghan civilians and the Afghan government.

The Afghan Interior Minister, General Massoud Andarabi said that the Taliban cannot avoid blame for its “crimes” simply by not claiming attacks. In response to the increase in attacks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered security forces to “offensive operations.”

Early in May, Afghan women leaders also penned an open letter to the mother of the ruler of Qatar for her help in urging the Taliban for a ceasefire and an end to the violence in Afghanistan.

In the letter, the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) reiterated the need for some calm and an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as the month of Ramadan. AWN is an umbrella organization with thousands of Afghan women members from across Afghanistan. The organization has been active in raising Afghan women’s voices for equal participation of women in the peace efforts, as well as demanding a ceasefire on multiple occasions.

AWN addressed the letter to Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, the mother of the emir of Qatar for two reasons:

  • The government of Qatar has been hosting the Taliban’s official office for many years now, and
  • Qatar has joined the call from the UN-Secretary General and other global leaders in the “Rise for All” campaign, which calls for urgent action in response to COVID-19 to save lives around the world.

In the letter, Afghan women urge,

“Nothing would save more lives in Afghanistan now than heeding the call for a ceasefire, urged by the Organization of Islamic Conference, the UN and the EU. …

“Since the Taliban representatives currently reside in Doha, Qatar, we urge your Highness to call on them to declare a temporary ceasefire for at least the remainder of the [month of] Ramadan and to bring an end to the ongoing bloodshed of Afghans.”


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About

Makhfi Azizi is the Director for the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is a graduate of the Fletcher school and has been working with the Foundation in this capacity for over a year. Makhfi is dedicated to women’s equality and peace.