The medication truck was parked in entrance of the hospital when the nurse arrived for work on that Sunday, Aug. 15, and as she approached the constructing, she noticed the driving force standing beside the car, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.
“He was screaming, ‘all the ladies should go away, sister please go, the Taliban are right here!’” the 35-year-old nurse recalled. “At first we couldn’t perceive him; it appeared not possible.”
Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may not put on in Kabul, she and the opposite girls round her climbed into the again of the truck, which dropped them every off at dwelling. For 3 days, the nurse was too scared to depart her home. On the fourth morning, she acquired a name from the hospital’s president: “The Taliban haven’t any drawback with girls,” she recalled him saying. “Please come again to work. There are duties right here that solely you are able to do; we’re strapped for sources, we’d like you.”
The nurse spoke with BuzzFeed Information to share with readers a “actual image” of what it’s prefer to be a working girl in Afghanistan proper now, she stated, requesting anonymity as a result of she fears for her life.
For working girls who stay in Afghanistan, the times for the reason that fall of Kabul have introduced worry and a chilling uncertainty about what their lives will appear like below Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on elements of girls’s rights. On Wednesday, Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid instructed reporters in Kabul that there was solely a “short-term restriction” on working girls and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.
“Our safety forces are usually not skilled [in] the way to cope with girls,” Mujahid stated. “Till we’ve got full safety in place … we ask girls to remain dwelling.”
However the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan girls have been saying all alongside: that their dwelling nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place girls face higher risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Ladies who had been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been pressured to flee the nation, their houses and workplaces ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photos of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger women have been despatched dwelling from college and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — girls docs and nurses can solely communicate to and deal with different girls, and all girls outdoors their houses should put on hijab. Even in areas the place the Taliban is but to start out policing girls, their return to energy has emboldened vigilantes who’ve threatened girls for not sporting a hijab or not staying of their houses.
“We’re simply ready now,” stated the nurse, who has labored on the hospital for 10 years. “However even we don’t know what we’re ready for.”
For girls just like the nurse, the one incomes member in her household, going to work was by no means a selection however a necessity. She now desires of leaving Afghanistan, she stated, however fears that that’s an impossibility due to her distinctive circumstances: The nurse lives together with her mom and a sister with disabilities who requires fixed care. Even earlier than a bomb killed dozens of individuals on the Kabul airport on Thursday, the nurse stated that she couldn’t think about how she may probably usher an aged girl and youngster by the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights overseas.
“If one thing had been to occur to my sister, or if I needed to go away them behind, I’d not be capable of dwell with myself,” she stated.
Though the nurse didn’t belief the Taliban or her hospital’s president, she returned to the hospital on Thursday out of a way of responsibility, she stated. On the streets, she stated, there have been troopers in all places, carrying Kalashnikovs and watching as she walked previous in her hijab.
“The worry was intense,” she stated. “They glared at me as if I had been prey. However I saved telling myself, perhaps they aren’t like earlier than, they don’t beat girls anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. Not less than not but.”
On the hospital, the safety individuals who often manned every entrance had been lacking and the complete place appeared the wrong way up. She walked in to seek out that almost all affected person wards had been empty — many had merely ripped their IVs out and left the hospital on foot. Those that remained — just a few terminally sick sufferers, one pregnant girl — regarded terrified, she stated.
The COVID ward, which the nurse stated was overrun with not less than a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse realized from one other nurse that the family of some sufferers had determined the Taliban was a extra harmful risk than the coronavirus and had taken their sick relations dwelling or straight to the airport.
“We not have any information on the variety of COVID sufferers on this hospital, or for that matter, on this metropolis,” she instructed BuzzFeed Information. “The well being ministry remains to be updating COVID information, however none of that’s actual. Nobody who’s sick desires to depart their home and run into Taliban troopers.”
A number of stampede victims had been dropped at her hospital for remedy too, however they had been males, whom she couldn’t deal with below the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse stated she realized about this new rule from a colleague, who instructed her she had been despatched dwelling by Taliban troopers when she was seen talking to a person with a bleeding foot.
Nurses and docs are required to go to the hospital each day to log their presence within the metropolis for the Taliban. Between the brand new insurance policies and the empty wards, the nurse is having a tough time motivating herself to maintain displaying as much as work, she stated.
Many sufferers, in search of to keep away from the chance of leaving their houses, have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse not too long ago delivered a child when a pregnant girl confirmed up in her neighborhood, begging for assist. The nurse carried no matter provides she may discover and walked with the girl to her dwelling, the place she delivered the child in secret. The nurse left the girl with a listing of medicines she would finally want, however she stated she has not heard from her once more.
The nurse is afraid of creating too many dwelling visits due to the Taliban troopers at checkpoints who’re monitoring motion across the metropolis, however she isn’t certain how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president not too long ago instructed nurses their salaries are on maintain till town’s banks begin functioning usually once more — banks in Kabul closed on Aug. 15, simply earlier than Afghanistan’s former president, Ashraf Ghani, fled and the Taliban arrived within the capital. When banks reopened after almost every week, they had been almost not possible to enter on account of large crowds. The nurse stated she hasn’t been capable of entry an ATM and isn’t certain what to do if she runs out of money. If the Taliban forces girls like her to cease working, the nurse stated, she may have no option to feed her household.
In her neighborhood, the nurse stated that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as strange males on the road who had out of the blue appointed themselves ethical guardians, telling girls to return dwelling, put on a hijab, and present some disgrace, warning them of beatings if they don’t comply.
A number of days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for often sporting denims: “It’s an excellent factor the Taliban are right here to maintain girls such as you,” she recalled him saying. Since then, the nurse’s mom and a younger male neighbor have taken turns going out to purchase bread and necessities for the household.
The nurse spends most of her time indoors now, however her major sources of leisure at dwelling not supply any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and weapons,” the nurse stated. “No Bollywood movies, Afghan Famous person, or the chat exhibits we used to like.” The radio, she stated, not performs music however solely the Taliban’s non secular songs, which “haven’t any melody and sound like a funeral.” ●
Khatol Momand contributed reporting.