Human rights: "Betrayed and forgotten?" - Women from Afghanistan and Iran

Loud and furious they cry out against oppression and against oblivion.

Human rights: "Betrayed and forgotten?" - Women from Afghanistan and Iran

Loud and furious they cry out against oppression and against oblivion. The demonstrators who linked arms on International Women's Day in Berlin come from Iran and Afghanistan - two countries in which women are currently being persecuted, disenfranchised and pushed out of public space.

One of them is Frozan Darwish. The 38-year-old human rights activist fled the Afghan capital Kabul shortly after the militant Islamist Taliban took power in August 2021. First she went to Pakistan for three weeks. At the beginning of December she came to Germany with her husband and four children with the help of the federal government.

"In the beginning it was very difficult in Germany, we lived in a dorm and every day bad news came from home," says the women's rights activist. Above all, the thought of the situation of her parents and the two brothers, who would not have had a chance to leave the country, plagues her to this day. The situation of the desperate young women in Afghanistan, many of whom have suicidal thoughts, does not let her go either.

support from abroad

Nevertheless, with medical help she managed to get out of her depression, attend a German course and put her plan into action abroad "to be a voice for my people," says the lawyer, who belongs to the Hazara ethnic minority .

The serious woman with the loose-fitting headscarf now lives with her family in Lower Saxony. She came to Berlin on this gloomy March day to take part in an event organized by Pro Asyl and other non-governmental organizations entitled "Betrayed and forgotten? Women in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power".

Sajia Behgam has come from Frankfurt am Main. She has been in Germany since October 2021 and is working to ensure that Afghans who have fled to neighboring countries or Turkey are also allowed to come to Germany via the Afghanistan admission program set up by the federal government. In Iran and Turkey in particular, refugees from Afghanistan came under increasing pressure.

The participants of the conference agree that the desolate situation of women and girls, who are being forced out of the labor market and their educational opportunities curtailed, would not be improved by increased contacts or even recognition by the Taliban government. They therefore see the fact that several states, including Iran, have now handed over Afghanistan's diplomatic missions there to the Taliban as a further slap in the face.

"No solidarity between men and women"

Afghan women think that men in Iran actively supported women's rights activists in their street protests. They say there has never been anything comparable in Afghanistan. "Afghan women have always been under pressure," says Frozan Darwish. This pressure also comes from male family members. "We have no solidarity between men and women in Afghanistan," agrees Sajia Behgam. "When the women take to the streets to fight for their rights, the men fear that they themselves could lose their authority if the women become stronger."

The women's conversations often deal with the German federal admissions program. The dissatisfaction is great. The process, which the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior set up together with non-governmental organizations networked in Afghanistan last autumn, is proving to be complicated and tough. "Applicants are asked to upload proof that they are being persecuted by the Taliban, as if they were giving you that in writing," says Fereshta Hussein, who came to Germany from Afghanistan in 2000 and is currently the chair of Potsdam's migrant advisory board .

Alema Alema, Afghanistan consultant at Pro Asyl, believes that it is certainly not a solution to take all democratically and progressively thinking people from Afghanistan out of the country. But sometimes there is no other way, as is the case with a young activist from the province of Ghor, who the Taliban threatened with forced marriage and who now lives in Germany. She finds it only logical that Afghans and Iranians are demonstrating together in Berlin on International Women's Day. She says: "Ultimately, it's the same mindset that women in both countries have to fight against."