Inside the WhatsApp groups Afghan women use to organise against the Taliban

Inside the WhatsApp groups Afghan women use to organise against the Taliban

It is past midnight in Kabul, but the phones of 180 Afghan women ping as messages arrive and screens light up with the persistent chatter of resistance against Taliban rule.

Few on the WhatsApp group share their real names, and fewer still have a profile photo. But all are Afghan women, trusted with an invitation by a core group to plan a revolution.

“We will continue to raise our voice. The world will listen,” one woman wrote.

“Ufff, when will the morning come so we can go out [to protest] again?” another asked.

The group’s name – changed often to avoid detection should any of the women be detained – is anonymous, as are the women who run it. But the theme revolves around a rough translation to “women’s justice”.

It is one of many groups of largely Afghan women, some as young as 15, who are mobilising others to protest against the Taliban’s oppressive regime.

The Taliban swept into Kabul on August 15, taking their strict ideology with them – one they used to frighten and oppress women when they controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

An illustration of messages sent on Afghan women's WhatsApp groups
An illustration of messages sent on Afghan women’s WhatsApp groups

“We have been abandoned. Everyone around the world is watching the atrocities the Taliban are committing against us, but not one country or international organisation is doing anything about it. It’s up to us to defend our rights,” said Zahra, one of the women leading protests in Kabul, adding that Afghan women feel betrayed by their allies.

“They held a number of conferences, invited the Taliban for talks around the world, signed a deal with them on the promise that they will protect our rights. We repeatedly said we didn’t trust them, but no one listed to us,” she said.

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