How the Taliban Strip Away Women’s Freedoms

Shahrzad used to work in the Afghan justice ministry. Now she teaches girls in secret

How the Taliban Strip Away Women’s Freedoms
Illustration by Joanna Andreasson for New Lines

After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the group launched a relentless assault on the rights and freedoms of women and girls, introducing restrictions on their movement, employment and the way they dress. Girls and women have since been banned from attending high school and university, as well as visiting public parks and bath houses.

The following is the diary of a young woman in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as narrated to New Lines over a 24-hour period through a series of phone calls. Before the Taliban takeover, 27-year-old Shahrzad (whose real name has been withheld for her safety) worked in the Ministry of Justice as an administrator, while also studying for a master’s degree in law at a private university. At the time she spoke to New Lines, she had lived for over a year under Taliban rule. She remains alive, physically, albeit under profound mental and spiritual strain.

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