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Shabnam Thawran's experience of Afghanistan

-Rajamo Nithyanandan

Shabnam Thawran, the anchor of Afghanistan‘s popular TV channel RDA Pashto, was denied entry to her office by Taliban fighters on August 14. This is an unedited conversation about his experiences after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. 

  On August 14th last year, the US forces left us in the middle and left the soil of Afghanistan. The Taliban terrorists, who were hiding till now, have captured my homeland. The country was plunged into darkness overnight. . Many of my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan have sought refuge in neighboring countries as refugees after learning of the brutality of the Taliban. Hundreds of people were crammed onto planes and buses as refugees.

Taliban terrorists abduct 20 Shias in central Afghanistan | Taghribnews  (TNA)

   In a single day, the lives of women in Afghanistan were reduced to tears. I also live as a refugee in England, mourning for my motherland.. . Even now I think of my people, I think of my girlfriends and friends who are living as refugees in Afghanistan and all over the world. I have nothing left but my tears.

 .On August 14, 2021, the first day that the Taliban took over the country, while other TV channels were buzzing with news, I was preparing to read the news on Afghanistan Radio. Other  I felt fear and anxiety in the message. They have completely captured the city of Kabul

 In the Taliban’s first official press conference, a Taliban spokesman said a press conference full of women journalists should be able to work on an equal footing with men. It gave me hope.

Taliban says it will honour women's rights but within norms of Islamic law

   .The next day I was nervously and excitedly going to my workplace and the whole country was in a tense situation. So that anxiety occupied me. As I slowly approached the front door of my office, a Taliban soldier stopped me.

  .I looked up at him “we are the guardians of this place you can’t work here we only allow male staff here.” He said. What he said to me was more than a shock.

 But what they said yesterday in the news release is not happening today. But I reminded him that what they said at the press conference yesterday is not what’s happening today, 

  He said, “In the Islamic Emirate, we haven’t decided on this yet, you have done enough work here. That’s enough, it’s our time, you go.

. .“I have every right to work here,” I argued. Then a Taliban soldier pointed his gun in front of my face, put his index finger on the trigger, and shouted, “One bullet is enough for you, leave or I will shoot you.

   . After that, there was no point in talking with them anymore, so I went back to my place. I never dreamed that such a situation would arise. Everything was going well so far. We were enjoying our rights amidst many contradictions. Even women were independent. Now everything has changed. ..Now when I think that my life is in danger and my parents are also in danger, I am forced to take some decisions.

 . I assumed that the plight of other women working in other television services and media industries would be similarly pitiable. My own relations, my relatives, friends, and comrades kept coming to my mind.

 .Exactly one year has passed since I left Afghanistan and came to the UK as a refugee. I know from the news that a lot of changes have taken place since we left Afghanistan. They are forced to keep some women in their service based on the conditions.  

 .We don’t want to come to work, we want to stay at home, many workplace women are forced to say. As far as I am concerned they will not bring real change until their thinking changes.

 .’’ I have now completely lost my six years of television service. “My dreams and plans are shattered like broken pieces of glass that fall to the floor.”

  No matter what, I have a little bit of hope in my heart. I believe that one day I will return to my motherland Afghanistan and my people will surely survive and my country will develop one day.

   Now I live in North London, England. My sister ‘Hema’ and ‘Meena’ live in East London. I had to wait for a long time to settle here. Even today, hotels in England are overcrowded with thousands of refugees.

  .Somehow I think I was lucky in a way that I got a ‘council house’. Now I have to start my life from scratch, first I have to learn English, when I first came here I didn’t know English and I even stumbled to buy things in the shops.

  .I want to study English and go to university and enjoy summer in England for the first time. It is comforting that we have the patronage of the UK Government. I’m used to everything. But when I think of my girlfriends and boyfriends my mind gets confused. I have spent many sleepless nights thinking about my people’s motherland

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