The lives of Afghanistan’s 250 female judges are in jeopardy, with those they formerly imprisoned now being hunted down by the victorious Taliban.
While some female judges have been able to evacuate in recent weeks, the majority have been left behind and are still attempting to flee, according to judges and activists who are working around the clock to assist them.
When they last dominated the country 20 years ago, the militants, who came to power after the US withdrew its soldiers, prohibited women from most jobs. They have stated that women’s rights will be respected, but no details have been provided.
Women who work in the legal system have previously been targeted. In January, two female Supreme Court justices were assassinated.
Now, the Taliban have released inmates across the country, putting “the lives of women judges in jeopardy,” according to a high-ranking Afghan woman judge who fled to Europe.
Kabul is a city in Afghanistan “‘Where is this woman judge?’ demanded four or five Taliban men who came to my residence. These were people I had imprisoned “In an interview with Reuters, she said, “I don’t want to be named.”
With the support of a group of human rights volunteers and overseas colleagues at the International Association of Women Judges, she was among a small handful of Afghan women judges who made it out in recent weeks (IAWJ).
She has kept in touch with colleagues back home since then: “Their letters are filled with panic and fear. They tell me that until they are rescued, their lives are in grave danger.”
According to Horia Mosadiq, an Afghan human rights activist, there are roughly a thousand additional women human rights defenders who could be targeted by the Taliban in addition to the judges.
“Freed inmates are calling women judges, prosecutors, and police officers with death threats, saying ‘we will come for you,'” she claimed.
Last Thursday, British Justice Minister Robert Buckland announced that London had evacuated nine female judges and was working to ensure the safety of other “extremely vulnerable persons.”
“A lot of these judges were in charge of enforcing the rule of law, and they are rightfully concerned about the ramifications that the Taliban’s ascent could bring,” he said.
Women judges and human rights defenders were not evacuated as a priority by Western countries in the chaos that followed Kabul’s fall, according to human rights and legal activists.
“Governments had no interest in evacuating people who weren’t their own citizens,” said Sarah Kay, a human rights lawyer based in Belfast and a member of the Atlas (NYSE:) Women network of worldwide lawyers.
She’s collaborating with the “digital Dunkirk,” an online community of volunteer veterans named after the World War II evacuation of British troops from Nazi-occupied France. With the use of discussion groups and personal relationships, it has assisted hundreds of people in escaping.
A team of six international judges has been coordinating information, lobbying governments, and arranging evacuations at the IAWJ.
“The burden that we face is nearly unbearable at the time since we are one of the only persons accepting responsibility for this group,” Patricia Whalen, an American judge who assisted in the 10-year training of Afghan female justices, told Reuters.
“That has infuriated me. We should not be in this situation.”