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Few women were seen in photo inside US military plane leaving Afghanistan. Why is that?

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, arrives at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan on August 17, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William Urban)
August 20, 2021

Few women were seen in photo inside US military plane leaving Afghanistan. Why is that?

As the Taliban strengthened their control of Afghanistan by seizing control of Kabul, numerous people have flocked to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital city in hopes of being able to leave the country.

In photos and video taken from the airport, hundreds of people can be seen trying to climb up the stairs or attempt to board a U.S. military jet already attempting to leave the runway. The situation, which President Joe Biden described as “gut-wrenching,” resulted in at least seven deaths.

However, over 600 Afghans were able to board a departing U.S. Air Force plane Sunday night headed to Qatar. Images of the packed aircraft circulated on social media, and while many people praised the pilots and hope for people seeking refuge, some noticed the lack of women and children aboard the plane.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported approximately 640 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 15, 2021. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

However, the low amount of women aboard may be due to fears of the Taliban.

Shirin Karimi, 32, said her sister, brother-in-law and two children are at the airport in Kabul hoping to leave the country. Karimi, who came to the U.S. in 2016, said she has seen videos and photos of women and children at the airport, but said she has some female friends staying inside of their houses because of the strict rules that they face under the Taliban. Some of them are also afraid of what could happen to them.

“Women cannot accept that risk,” Karimi told USA TODAY.

Karimi added one of her friends, who doesn’t have a husband but has children, went to a grocery store but was told she wasn’t allowed to be there.

“It’s not only her. This is all my friends. They’re all saying that they cannot go outside. They’re so scared. Most of them work with the American government, and some of them were prosecutors and judges. It is a really dangerous situation. In any minute, the Taliban can just knock the door and take them out,” Karimi said. “Their faces cannot be seen, their hands cannot be seen, their whole body cannot be seen. It is enforced.”

The feelings Karimi shared contradict what Taliban officials said in their first news conference since seizing control of the country on Tuesday. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said “nobody will be harmed” as a result of their control. He also said the militant group is “committed to the rights of women under the system of sharia (Islamic) law,” but could only work and study “within our frameworks.”

“They are going to be working shoulder to shoulder with us. We would like to assure the international community that there will be no discrimination,” Mujahid said.

Despite their claims of no discrimination, one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, Zarifa Ghafari, said on Sunday she was expecting Taliban militants to kill her.

Other people still feel women will be forced under harsh treatment from the Taliban, considering what happened the last time they took control of Kabul in 1994, when most women were forced to quit their jobs and many lost their access to education and health care, according to the U.S. Department of State.

“Safi Stanikzai, a 32-year-old Afghan American, said during the Taliban’s rule in the 90s, they would brutally beat women and teenage girls who were found walking outside without a job or a man. “I have noticed that a lot, and even that happened with a few family members also.”

Nearly 20-years later, that same treatment may be returning.

“Women are not allowed to be educated. They cannot go outside alone. Their 20 years of education is ruined by the Taliban,” Karimi said.

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(c) 2021 USA Today

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