PARIS: Afghan activist Rita Safi has accused Western governments of failing to fulfill promises to assist women and protect her sister in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Safi, who has sought asylum in France, revealed that her sister Frozan, a women’s rights advocate, was tragically killed in Afghanistan due to a lack of promised support. Safi expressed disappointment, stating that the assurances of assistance were mere words, leaving them abandoned and resulting in the loss of her sister.
Hoping for increased support after the fall of Kabul in 2021, Safi found that a significant number of Afghans were not included in evacuation plans, leaving them vulnerable to the Taliban. Her older sister, Frozan, a prominent human rights defender, fell victim to the Taliban’s brutality just over two months after their takeover, with Safi sharing the horrific details of her sister’s death.
Facing death threats after speaking out about the killings, Safi escaped to Pakistan in December 2021. Safi’s situation improved when a French journalist highlighted her plight, resulting in her arrival in Paris on December 8, along with other Afghan women seeking asylum.
Plight of Afghan Women Without Western Support
French journalist Margaux Benn, part of a collective aiding Afghan women, highlighted the challenges faced by those without Western support, emphasizing the urgent need for assistance. Amnesty International’s Tcherina Jerolon noted the complex and lengthy visa application process, leaving Afghan women largely abandoned.
While France claims to have issued 15,000 visas to Afghans, including women, rights defenders, journalists, and magistrates, the head of France Terre d’Asile raised concerns about the low number of arrivals in the past year. The situation has prompted criticism of the international community’s perceived hypocrisy.
Neveen Hashim, another Afghan women’s rights activist in France, stressed the inadequacy of support, particularly for single Afghan women, who are more susceptible to abuse. She criticized the international community for leaving them at the mercy of a regime that closed every door to them. Meanwhile, her sister Rafah, still in Pakistan, awaits a visa from French authorities.