The drugs 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 motive force standing beside the automobile, frantically waving at her and the opposite nurses to show again.
“He was screaming, ‘all the ladies should depart, sister please go, the Taliban are right here!’” the 35-year-old nurse recalled. “At first we couldn’t perceive him; it appeared unimaginable.”
Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she may now 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 house. For 3 days, the nurse was too scared to go away her home. On the fourth morning, she acquired a name from the hospital’s president: “The Taliban haven’t any downside 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 wish to be a working girl in Afghanistan proper now, she mentioned, 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 concern and a chilling uncertainty about what their lives will appear to be beneath Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on features of girls’s rights. On Wednesday, Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid advised reporters in Kabul that there was solely a “non permanent restriction” on working girls and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.
“Our safety forces will not be educated [in] easy methods to take care of girls,” Mujahid mentioned. “Till we have now full safety in place … we ask girls to remain house.”
However the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan girls have been saying all alongside: that their house nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place girls face larger risks, restrictions, and few alternatives. Ladies who have been as soon as publicly outspoken about their rights have been compelled to flee the nation, their properties and workplaces ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photos of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger ladies have been despatched house from faculty and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — girls docs and nurses can solely converse to and deal with different girls, and all girls exterior their properties 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 carrying a hijab or not staying of their properties.
“We’re simply ready now,” mentioned 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 mentioned, 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 mentioned that she couldn’t think about how she may presumably usher an aged girl and youngster by means of the determined crowds jostling for the restricted seats on flights overseas.
“If one thing have been to occur to my sister, or if I needed to depart them behind, I might not be capable to stay with myself,” she mentioned.
Although the nurse didn’t belief the Taliban or her hospital’s president, she returned to the hospital on Thursday out of a way of obligation, she mentioned. On the streets, she mentioned, there have been troopers in all places, carrying Kalashnikovs and watching as she walked previous in her hijab.
“The concern was intense,” she mentioned. “They glared at me as if I have been prey. However I saved telling myself, perhaps they don’t seem to be like earlier than, they don’t beat girls anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. At the least not but.”
On the hospital, the safety individuals who normally manned every entrance have been lacking and the complete place appeared the other way up. She walked in to search out that almost all affected person wards have been empty — many had merely ripped their IVs out and left the hospital on foot. Those that remained — a couple of terminally ailing sufferers, one pregnant girl — regarded terrified, she mentioned.
The COVID ward, which the nurse mentioned was overrun with at the very least a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse discovered from one other nurse that the kin of some sufferers had determined the Taliban was a extra harmful risk than the coronavirus and had taken their sick relations house or straight to the airport.
“We now not have any knowledge on the variety of COVID sufferers on this hospital, or for that matter, on this metropolis,” she advised BuzzFeed Information. “The well being ministry continues to be updating COVID knowledge, however none of that’s actual. Nobody who’s sick desires to go away their home and run into Taliban troopers.”
A couple of stampede victims have been delivered to her hospital for remedy too, however they have been males, whom she couldn’t deal with beneath the brand new hospital guidelines. The nurse mentioned she discovered about this new rule from a colleague, who advised her she had been despatched house 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 day by 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 exhibiting as much as work, she mentioned.
Many sufferers, in search of to keep away from the chance of leaving their properties, have turned to privately contacting medical professionals. The nurse just lately 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 house, the place she delivered the child in secret. The nurse left the girl with a listing of medicines she would ultimately want, however she mentioned she has not heard from her once more.
The nurse is afraid of constructing too many house visits due to the Taliban troopers at checkpoints who’re monitoring motion across the metropolis, however she will not be positive how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president just lately advised 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 practically per week, they have been practically unimaginable to enter on account of large crowds. The nurse mentioned she hasn’t been capable of entry an ATM and isn’t positive what to do if she runs out of money. If the Taliban forces girls like her to cease working, the nurse mentioned, she could have no method to feed her household.
In her neighborhood, the nurse mentioned that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as odd males on the road who had out of the blue appointed themselves ethical guardians, telling girls to return house, put on a hijab, and present some disgrace, warning them of beatings if they don’t comply.
A couple of days in the past, she had an argument with a shopkeeper who chastised her for often carrying denims: “It’s factor the Taliban are right here to handle 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 house now not supply any semblance of escapism — the tv airs nothing however the information. “All I see are turbans, beards, and weapons,” the nurse mentioned. “No Bollywood movies, Afghan Famous person, or the chat exhibits we used to like.” The radio, she mentioned, now not performs music however solely the Taliban’s spiritual songs, which “haven’t any melody and sound like a funeral.” ●
Khatol Momand contributed reporting.