Afghan filmmaker Roya Heydari’s heartbreaking post on fleeing her motherland captures the desperation and dilemma that thousands of women in the Taliban-controlled country face today. “I left my whole life, my home in order to continue to have a voice,” the filmmaker wrote, underlining once again the issue of women’s rights and safety under the hardline Islamic regime.
When last in power between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban had banned women from the workplace, stopped them from leaving the home unaccompanied by a male relative and forced them to wear an all-covering burqa in public. This time, the group is trying to project a more moderate image, claiming that women will have rights, including to education and work – but women in the country are worried the stance may not last. Already, there have been reports of a woman Afghan journalist been barred from working after the Taliban takeover.
A Taliban spokesperson said yesterday that women should not go to work for their own safety, undermining the group’s efforts to convince international observers that the group would be more tolerant towards women than when they were last in power.
In her Twitter post from Thursday, Ms Heydari shared a photo from the Kabul airport – the only way out of the country – and said, “Once again,I am running from my motherland. Once again, I am going to start from zero.”
The photojournalist said she carried only her cameras and a “dead soul” as she fled her motherland. She concluded her post with a heavy heart, writing: “I took only my cameras and a dead soul with me across an ocean. With a heavy heart, goodbye motherland. Until we meet again.”