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Editorial: Safeguarding Afghan Female Activists

As the US is on the edge of withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan to get succeeded its peace agreement with Taliban, ambiguously surrounding the fate of Afghanistan that highly risks the collapse of the past hard-gains. Amid growing uncertainty on the ongoing peace talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, waves of terror have rocked Kabul streets and provinces across Afghanistan. The recent rise in targeted killings of high profile and professional figures, including, judges, journalists and civil society workers, have painted a grim picture with uncertain destiny. Just recently, the unidentified gunmen have targeted two female judges of the Supreme Court in PD 10th of Kabul city. No one asserted responsibility for the attack, but the government lays the blame on the Taliban. It is still unclear whether the attacks are conducted by the Taliban or any other convert figures, seeking to undermine the peace process. Prior to the assassination of female judges, a number of women rights activists, female media professionals and female government personnel lost their lives in the similar incidents of magnetic mines and hit-and-run assassinations. The concerning point is that we have a merely number of female professionals who stand for women rights, civil rights and fighting for their equality in our society – which is considered a patriarchy community – and women treated with less freedom. During the last two decades, there has been some progress in women rights that laid out education, work and other opportunities for them in Afghanistan. Some of them shined brightly and earned a proud honor for their country such as the five-Afghan girls of the robotic team and top female activists. With the government and Taliban engaged in peace negotiations, these achievements could likely ignored even sacrificed. The Taliban during its regime in the 1990s deprived women from their equal rights and isolated them from working in the offices and going to schools or varsity. The toughest experience of the Afghans from the Taliban regimes supercharges the blames on them for killing of female professionals in the country. The group tries to target those images that stand for the rights of women, minorities and freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the government has also failed to provide proper security to protect these tiny numbers of female professionals. A large number of female journalists have already quitted their jobs, fearing the Taliban threats in rural areas and some of them even forced to leave the country as the targeted killings of media workers on the surge. Names of some of them were in the hit-list. The government, besides many other challenges, should pay serious attention to the protection of female professionals as Afghanistan needs them now more than ever to defend the rights of women alongside the government against the Taliban on the negotiation table of the intra-Afghan talks. These activists can raise the voices of Afghan women to the international community and the United Nations to avert going back to the darkest period of history.

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