My sins are forgiven by the Taliban because I am ‘siyasar.’ What slander!

By Tahmina Forozan 

Kabul is under military rule. By denying the people any chance of privacy or peace, the Taliban have imposed a hostile regime on us. Wearing dirty shoes, they enter buildings and homes where people rest, worship, and seek refuge from the chaos around them. Even children who don’t understand war or guns are body-searched during the Taliban’s intrusive and regular house searches.  

By conducting these arbitrary searches – and even treating children as suspects – the Taliban inflict wounds that will never heal. They perpetuate and reproduce the cycle of violence and revenge by considering children as suspects and violating their privacy. 

“Force” is the language of the Taliban, and their ‘logic’ is blind ideology mingled with ethnic bigotry. The fact that entire cities have been turned into military and security checkpoints is proof of this. To prevent non-Pashtun ethnic groups and others who disagree with the Taliban from undertaking any acts of rebellion, they have checkpoints every few hundred metres. 

Residents are practically defenseless against the increase in insecurity and crime, and they are forced to defend themselves against a terrorist group that threatens their lives. Meanwhile, my heart aches for my friend who set fire to the clothes of her martyred fiancée in fear that the Taliban will find them during an invasive search of her home and take the last romantic memento of her beloved. I often wonder what she endured while incinerating his garments. 

As far as I know, no one is spared the Taliban’s blatant aggression during the house-to-house searches as they invade our privacy and our homes. They search everywhere. They ransack my clothes, even women’s underwear, and vests. They tear apart sanitary napkin packages. To humiliate me even more, they then interrogated me for about 15 minutes, suspicious that I had filmed their brutality. In the end, they say that they will forgive me because I am a “siyasar” (a degrading word used to address women in Afghanistan.)  They have invaded my home, and my privacy, and now have decided to forgive me because I am a woman. 

As the Taliban explains, because I am not a man, they will have mercy on me! What slander! What pain! Rulers have always turned the truth upside down. Throughout this land, the places of victims and criminals have always changed. 

My father was threatened and humiliated by the Taliban during the house search on that sad day. Instead of the Taliban responding to my objections, my father was accused of failing to raise his children properly. My father was embarrassed in front of my family, my neighbors, and me.  

There is no doubt that the Taliban’s threats are a sign of their fear of our growing consciousness. We have seen that their attempts to humiliate women are the consequences of their sense of insecurity, contradictions, and internal emptiness in their understanding of women. They want to impose their corrupt and medieval worldview on the 21st-century generation. As they admitted after house-to-house searches in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, this generation is fond of books and pens despite poverty and war. 

When they invaded our house, they headed straight for my small library and pulled it apart. In search of forbidden books, they combed through my shelves. I witnessed them searching for booty and blackmail in our houses. Instead, when they failed to find anything, they didn’t hesitate to eat the cocoa from my cupboard. 

Tahmina Forozan is a student. 

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