On Friday, July 13, Reuters reported that Hanifa Safi, a regional head of women’s affairs in Afghanistan, was killed when a bomb attached to her car exploded. Women’s human rights leaders and women in visible positions in Afghanistan have been routinely targeted and killed. In fact, Hanifa Safi was the second woman holding this position to have been assassinated since the position was created a decade ago. The first was Safia Amajan.
In September 2006, Safia, who opened six schools in Kandahar that educated over 1,000 women, was gunned down while leaving her home; a Taliban spokesman announced that she had been “executed.”
Shaima Rezayee was a pop star and a public figure. She spoke to a journalist about the criticism she received for appearing on television without a burka and said, “We made some gains, but there are a lot of people who want to take it all back… we’ll have to go into exile again.” She was shot and killed in May 2005.
Malalai Kakar served as a policewoman in Afghanistan. She joined the force in 1982. After surviving multiple assassination attempts, she was killed in September 2008. The Taliban claimed they had “eliminated” their target.
Afghan women are fighting for their lives. Their own government’s meager interest in their well-being is waning, and the international community is fatigued after more than ten years enmeshed in seemingly endless conflict there. But Afghan women are being left out of crucial discussions and decision-making processes about their own country’s future. Afghan women need rights, resources, and ongoing support, from their own government, and from the international community. Their very lives are at stake.
You can read more about MADRE’s crucial work with the Afghan Women’s Survival Fund here.