Mina Alimi never left Kabul – not during the wars she was born in, not during the first Taliban government when she was just a little girl, and not even last year when the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban seized her hometown.
Even as her friends and colleagues fled fearing the new regime, Alimi, one of only 270 female judges in the country, chose to stay back despite the threats against her. Her name has been changed to protect her identity as she remains at risk.
“I had many opportunities to leave Afghanistan, but it meant leaving behind my elderly parents, in-laws and siblings who had supported me every step of the way. They were at just as much risk as I was because of my profession. How could I just leave them at the mercy of the Taliban and the criminals they released?” Alimi told Al Jazeera.
Threats and even armed attacks were not uncommon in her line of work. In the year preceding the takeover, several female judges were targeted in assassination attempts in Afghanistan, resulting in the killing of Judges Qadria Yasini and Zakia Herawi.
Alimi, too, had been receiving threats from the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan – threats she ignored owing to her steadfast faith in the rule of law that she had spent years upholding.
‘They are looking for me’
However, when the Taliban marched into Afghan cities as part of their stunning takeover of the country last August, they began releasing prisoners from Afghan jails, some of them criminals whom Alimi had helped put in.
“I worked in the criminal division court and was part of hearings that convicted many Taliban fighters and other criminals. My name is a part of official verdicts that put many dangerous insurgents behind bars, and they have been looking for me since they were released,” she said, adding that the threats forced her and her family to go in hiding.
“I can’t even imagine what would they would do to me but I am terrified of what they will do to my family,” she said.
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