The Taliban kidnappers moved her to at least 13 homes, made her sleep on the ground, and kept asking where she’d been, what she’d done and whom she knew. Every few days, she would be given a chance to call her family.
Still, the militants would push her only so far they knew they needed to keep their bargaining chip in good shape.
Afghan lawmaker Fariba Ahmadi Kakar (39) gave a rare account of what it’s like for a woman to be held captive by the Islamist insurgents. Her four-week ordeal ended this month.
“I wasn’t tortured. I wasn’t under constant stress. But I wasn’t free,” Ms. Kakar said.
She’s also lucky to be alive.
Since July, several prominent women have been attacked in Afghanistan. Among them — two police officers who were killed in the south, an Indian author living in eastern Afghanistan who was killed years after her memoir about 1990s life under Taliban rule became an Indian film; and a senator who was wounded in an ambush.
These and other attacks on female leaders in recent years have generally been blamed on the Taliban, though the Afghan militant group, mindful of cultural sensitivities, usually does not admit to targeting women. The assaults have added to growing fears that what few gains Afghan women have made since the U.S. toppled the Taliban government in 2001 could be erased once American-led foreign troops finish withdrawing next year.
Being a woman in the public eye is a special challenge in Afghanistan, where tribal and conservative Islamic mores have long subjected women across the social spectrum to violence and discrimination.
The spotlight can be a shield, making men think twice about mistreating a woman and perhaps even guaranteeing that she’ll be assigned a bodyguard. At the same time, it can make a woman a more attractive target for insurgents hoping to spread fear and weaken confidence in the Afghan government.
Something of a blur
Ms. Kakar is one of 69 female lawmakers in the 249-seat lower house of Parliament, and she’s never been naive about the danger she and other prominent Afghan women face. Still, her initial encounter with her kidnappers was so swift and shocking it’s still something of a blur today.
Ms. Kakar, her four children, her bodyguard and her driver were travelling from southern Kandahar province to Kabul, the Afghan capital, when a handful of armed militants on motorbikes appeared ahead of them on the outskirts of Ghazni city. The gunmen made the driver turn off the highway onto a bumpy, dirt road that led to a small village.
The militants put the group in the home of an Afghan Taliban family, separating the men from the women and saying little.
Kakar, though, quickly began pleading with the captors to free her three daughters and son, ages 2 to 20.
The men, like many Taliban, were hard-line Muslims who tried to avoid interacting with women outside their families. They would tell her their commanders were dealing with the details of her case.— AP