After years of abuse at the hands of her husband, 32-year-old Bano gathered the courage last year to file for divorce in northeastern Afghanistan.
“For four years, he beat me every day and raped me every night,” she told Al Jazeera, requesting that her name be changed because she is in hiding from her abuser. “If I resisted, he would beat me more.”
“He would humiliate and insult me because I could not get pregnant,” she said. “When the doctor told us that he was the one who needed fertility treatments, he came home and kicked me between the legs, blaming me for being barren.”
Just as Bano’s case was scheduled for a court hearing in Takhar province, the government collapsed in August 2021 and the Taliban returned to power.
“The judges were gone, the lawyers were gone, and with the help of the Taliban, my husband forced me to return to his house, threatening to kill my family if I didn’t,” she said.
After their takeover, the Taliban dismantled the existing judicial system, appointed their own judges and implemented their own version of Islamic law.
“There are no female lawyers operating any more, and none of the female judges has been allowed back to work,” said Marzia, a female judge before the Taliban takeover. She is also in hiding.
Afghanistan had more than 300 female judges presiding over judicial departments that ranged from women’s issues to criminal and terrorism-related cases. Several hundred judges have since escaped to other countries, and some 70 female judges – if not more – are in hiding and unable to return to work.
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