On early Monday morning, just before the break of dawn, a 23-year-old Afghan journalist packed her bags, said quiet goodbyes to her family and left her home in a carefully mapped and cautiously executed plan.
“My heart was beating so fast for the whole journey, till I reached a safe place. I was escaping the Taliban’s brutality and I was afraid they would capture me,” she shared. The journalist asked to be identified only with her initials – F.J. – because her family is still under Taliban surveillance inside Afghanistan.
She was escaping threats of a forced marriage with a local Taliban fighter in her district in northern Afghanistan and relocating to another country. “One of their commanders who was only being referred to as ‘maulavi‘ [a title given to a religious leader] demanded that my parents marry me to him. They wanted to control and punish me for my work against them,” F.J. said, referring to her reporting critical of the Taliban’s treatment of women and minorities.
“When I refused, they were offended and at first threatened to kill my parents, but then they threaten to kidnap me,” she told NPR, speaking from the location where she is in hiding.
F.J. said that she knows girls from her community, including one of her neighbors, who had been kidnapped and forced into marriage with Taliban fighters in the past year.
Read full report on NPR