As the Taliban take over Afghanistan's institutions, women stand to lose the most. Mayor Ghafari explained her concerns.
As the Taliban, a militant group based in Afghanistan, continues to take over the Middle Eastern country, Zarifa Ghafari has expressed her distress about the situation. At 27 years old, Ghafari is the nation's youngest woman mayor and leads the city of Maidan Sharh. At present, she is afraid members of the group will target her and other women, particularly those who are politically active. Women, those in the LGBTQ+ community, and religious minorities face great risk under Taliban rule, and international aid has not been forthcoming. Ghafari, who has been critical of her men counterparts in diplomacy, highlighted the importance of women participating in the political process, the United Kingdom's iNews reports.
"I'm sitting here waiting for them to come," she said of the Taliban in an interview with the news outlet. "There is no one to help me or my family. I'm just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me. I can't leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?" Ghafari, in addition to being a prominent mayor in the country, is a fierce advocate for women's rights. The political representative has championed women's rights in Afghanistan for years, hosting her own radio show and founding a nongovernmental organization focused on empowering women economically. She became the first female mayor of the Maidan Wardak province in 2018.
Even prior to the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan earlier this month, Ghafari faced great resistance to her leadership particularly because she administrates a relatively conservative district. In the past, she has received numerous death threats and survived multiple attempts on her life. Just last year, she lost her father to what she believes was a political assassination. Abdul Wasi Ghafari was a colonel in the Afghan army. He was assassinated last November in Kabul, the country's capital. His daughter said of his murder, "They don't want me in Maidan Shar. That is why they killed my dad."
Ghafari points towards a culture of sexism to explain the lack of women in Afghanistan's leadership. "For more than 60 years, men have had all the opportunities, but they have not succeeded or found solutions for ongoing conflicts," she explained. "I'm so confident that we, as women, can do better than anyone else." As the Taliban enforce strict mandates on women's rights, often regulated through violent means of torture and murder, the current scenario is only expected to worsen. Nonetheless, she remains undeterred by the ongoing takeover. Ghafari affirmed, "I am so broken. I don't know who to rely on. But I won't stop now even if they come after me again. I am not scared to die anymore."