2021年10月15日 星期五

The Daily: When the Taliban Aren’t the Only Enemy

What we heard from Afghan women.

By Lynsea Garrison and Stella Tan

The Big Idea: The shape-shifting enemy of Afghan women's rights

The Daily strives to reveal a new idea in every episode we publish. Below, two producers go deeper on one from our show this week.

Women stand inside an auditorium at Kabul University's education center during a demonstration in support of the Taliban government earlier this month in Kabul.Felipe Dana/Associated Press

After Kabul, Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban, the world wondered: Would the country return to some of the world's strictest restrictions on women?

In the 1990s, when the Taliban were first in power, Afghan women were generally not allowed to leave their homes except under narrow conditions. Those who did risked being beaten. And while Taliban leaders have insisted that this time will be different, they have imposed restrictions on women's work and education. So we wanted to know: How are women in Afghanistan feeling? How have their lives changed?

When we, and our colleague Neena Pathak, started making calls to Afghan women, we expected to hear stories about how new Taliban restrictions were affecting their day-to-day lives. And we did. A former public official said she was hiding evidence of her credentials in the walls of her house. A university student said her classroom had been separated by a curtain: male students on one side, female on another. One woman we spoke with sold her car — which she once used to take her girlfriends out for ice cream — because she felt it was a risk to be seen driving.

But we also heard more complicated stories, where the threat to women's lives and safety wasn't so clear. Some women we spoke to said that life hasn't changed much for their family members and acquaintances who live in rural areas. If anything, the Taliban rule has brought a de-escalation of violence.

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Some said they were open to Taliban restrictions as long as their basic rights were ensured. "I can wear a scarf. I can wear a long dress. It's OK," one woman said. "Freedom is not wearing jeans and a T-shirt." For her, the most important thing was education, health care and the freedom to work.

Others told us that the Taliban were not the only threat — that they had also emboldened longstanding mafia groups. We spoke to a judge who used to sentence men in criminal networks who stole inherited land from women. She said that after the Taliban takeover, she received threatening calls from these mafia groups, warning her that the balance of power had shifted. She is now in hiding, living in fear of the men she ruled against and their extended networks.

And finally, we spoke to N, the young woman you heard on Wednesday's show. For her, the threat wasn't just the prospect of a Taliban marriage. It was her family's willingness to use her as a bargaining chip in exchange for its own protection.

In these stories, the enemy shape-shifted — from the Taliban, to reactivated criminal forces, to American soldiers, to a father — reflecting a conflict where the fault lines have never been clear. But in a country in which power has morphed so many times, one thing remains consistent. During moments of upheaval, Afghan women continue to absorb the shocks, in ways that are often quiet, private and deeply personal.

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Many of you wrote in asking how you could help N, the young woman from Wednesday's show. Here are resources compiled by The Times if you are interested in supporting women in Afghanistan.

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For your weekend playlist

Fatima Garcia of the group Danza Azteca Guadalupana dances during an event celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.Pu Ying Huang/Reuters

Monday was the first-ever federal Indigenous Peoples' Day in the U.S. In honor of that, we wanted to share some recommendations for podcasts highlighting the voices and perspectives of Native peoples, including "As She Rises," by Grace Lynch at Wonder Media Network.

The show takes listeners across regions and soundscapes to cover the climate crisis.

"I tried to make this huge issue that covers the whole globe really small and really intimate. And that led to the style of the show being very site-specific and issue-specific," Grace said. The show captures the rich aural diversity of places like the Louisiana bayou, Alaskan tundra and Costa Rican beach.

"In addition to changing how the conversation was framed, I wanted to change who was having the conversation as well," Grace said, noting that she focused on telling the stories of Indigenous women and women of color who were "disproportionately affected" by the climate crisis.

On The Daily this week

Monday: Which towns are worth saving from climate change?

Tuesday: The case for making child care a public good.

Wednesday: One young Afghan woman's impossible choice.

Thursday: The lawlessness at Rikers Island jail complex.

Friday: The supply chain crisis and why it isn't over yet.

That's it for the Daily newsletter. See you next week.

Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.

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