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 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 unimaginable.”
Wearing denims and a shirt, Western-style garments she feared she might not put on in Kabul, she and the opposite ladies 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 obtained a name from the hospital’s president: “The Taliban haven’t any downside with ladies,” 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 ladies 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 like beneath Taliban rule. For months, the Taliban have publicly claimed that they’ve moderated their positions on points 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 ladies and that it was for their very own security amid the chaos of the regime change.
“Our safety forces aren’t educated [in] the way to take care of ladies,” Mujahid mentioned. “Till we now have full safety in place … we ask ladies to remain house.”
However the early days of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan have solely confirmed what Afghan ladies have been saying all alongside: that their house nation will as soon as once more flip into a spot the place ladies face better 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 properties and places of work ransacked by armed gunmen, and posters with photos of girls have been defaced throughout the capital. Younger ladies have been despatched house from college and warned to not return. Hospitals like those the nurse works in have gotten gender segregated — ladies docs and nurses can solely converse to and deal with different ladies, and all ladies outdoors their properties should put on hijab. Even in areas the place the Taliban is but to begin policing ladies, their return to energy has emboldened vigilantes who’ve threatened ladies for not sporting 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 ladies just like the nurse, the one incomes member in her household, going to work was by no means a alternative 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 might presumably usher an aged girl and little one by means of 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 might not be capable to reside 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 responsibility, she mentioned. On the streets, she mentioned, there have been troopers in every single place, carrying Kalashnikovs and watching as she walked previous in her hijab.
“The concern was intense,” she mentioned. “They glared at me as if I had been prey. However I stored telling myself, perhaps they aren’t like earlier than, they don’t beat ladies anymore. They appeared quiet, not violent. At the least 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 — a number of terminally ailing sufferers, one pregnant girl — regarded terrified, she mentioned.
The COVID ward, which the nurse mentioned was overrun with at the least a dozen sufferers till the week earlier than, was now empty. The nurse discovered from one other nurse that the kinfolk of some sufferers had determined the Taliban was a extra harmful risk than the coronavirus and had taken their sick members of the family house 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 needs to go away their home and run into Taliban troopers.”
A couple of stampede victims had been dropped at her hospital for therapy too, however they had 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 instructed her she had been despatched house by Taliban troopers when she was seen chatting with 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 exhibiting as much as work, she mentioned.
Many sufferers, searching for to keep away from the danger of leaving their properties, 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 might discover and walked with the girl to her house, the place she delivered the child in secret. The nurse left the girl with an inventory 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 shouldn’t be positive how else to earn cash. The hospital’s president not too long ago instructed nurses their salaries are on maintain till the 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 per week, they had been almost unimaginable to enter on account of huge 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 ladies like her to cease working, the nurse mentioned, she can have no strategy to feed her household.
In her neighborhood, the nurse mentioned that troopers weren’t as a lot of an issue as atypical males on the road who had all of a sudden appointed themselves ethical guardians, telling ladies 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 repeatedly sporting denims: “It’s a great factor the Taliban are right here to deal with ladies 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 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 Celebrity, or the chat reveals we used to like.” The radio, she mentioned, 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.