Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

The Last Safe Spaces: Who will fund Afghanistan’s remaining shelters?

2 min

Elle, 12 June 2024

Another gripping reportage by Lynzy Billing, about Afghanistan’s remaining shelters for abuses women. It starts with this story:

When the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in 2021, a Taliban member asked Razia’s father for her hand in marriage. Her family, former government workers, felt the marriage was the only way to avoid harassment from the Taliban. When Razia (a pseudonym to protect her safety), who was 18 at the time, refused the marriage, her family beat her so severely that she attempted suicide. The beating continued and eventually, her mother was forced to take her to a local medical clinic. (…) After seeking refuge in one of The Khadijah Project shelters, Razia went on to work with the project.

She reports that UNAMA found in December last year “that all of the country’s 23 specialized women protection centers (shelters sponsored by the previous Afghan government), have now closed” after funding, “including $11 million per year” for them by the US, dried up, but also due to ” threats of violence.” She also says that “others now operate on a scaled-down basis (…) rely[ing] on funding from a handful of foreign philanthropists, individuals, and small foundations” – but it is not clear whether this refers to some of the former or new initiatives.

She further reports that the former government’s Ministry of Interior “Family Response Units,” which had helped women register complaints with the police, have “closed in some provinces” – indicating some might have survived.

She reports about a new NGO running new shelters, the Khadijah Project, but also leaves it open how it survives under the Taleban, only saying that they are permanently threatened by closure by the Taleban as “in the end, [they are] only allowed to operate with the Taliban government’s permission and according to their rules.”

In 2023, the project “had to downsize from 60 small shelters to about 25, which, as of last month, support 270 women and children”, after in August 2022, it “was selected to receive a $200,000 grant from the UN to cover the project’s annual running costs” but it took “a year before they received a portion of the money” due to financial restrictions in place against Taleban Afghanistan.

She also reminds us that “Many of the problems [around the shelters and violence against women] existed long before the Taliban takeover.