THE CRY FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN
“We don’t want to be subject to this rule – we want to have freedom!” is the cry from an Afghan woman on SAT-7 PARS as women, children, and minorities including Christians face a dire threat to their safety, their rights, and their future.
Mariam, an Afghan woman who appeared on a special live program for Afghanistan on SAT-7 PARS, told how her 17-year-old niece in the country was so frightened following the Taliban takeover that she fainted. “I don’t want to be subject to the rule of such people. I want to go to school and study. To go to university. What kind of future can I have in a country that is ruled by the Taliban?” Mariam’s niece later told her.
On 23 August program, called In Pursuit of Hope, Mariam said, “We don’t want to live under the flag of a group such as the Taliban, and we don’t want to lose the gains made in the face of so much opposition within families and society. We want to have freedom to go to school and university, to walk free, to sing songs and dance. That is the right of all women across the world, and it is the right of the women in my country.” She also shared that girls in Afghanistan are afraid the Taliban will go door-to-door, forcing them to marry their fighters.
Mariam describes conditions under the previous Taliban rule as making Afghanistan a “prison” for women unable to leave their homes without a male relative, access education, or work. Today’s Taliban initially promised rights would be at least somewhat preserved. But a statement released by the group on 24 August urged women to stay in their homes, supposedly for their own safety. There are also isolated reports of fighters whipping and urinating on women and children to humiliate them.
“Our hearts break for women in Afghanistan, who face the loss of everything they have gained in the past 20 years. I am also reminded of images of the happy faces of girls and boys going to school, knowing they had a chance of a future – a future now in jeopardy. SAT-7 PARS’ women’s programming, which shows Afghan women their true value in God’s eyes, equal to that of men, has become more important than ever, as have the children’s programs that offer hope and help children turn to God in hard times,” said Rita El-Mounayer, SAT-7 CEO.
Children in Afghanistan also urgently need our prayers, especially those caught up in the turmoil in Kabul. “The destructive impact of these events is first and foremost on children,” says Parisa, a psychologist who also appeared on the live program. “The effects on them of the fear and anxiety can be of a magnitude beyond repair.”
The live program shared a video of the touching prayers SAT-7 PARS has received for children in Afghanistan from children in Iran. ‘I want to say to Afghan children who are watching – you are not alone,” says Rahel*, Audience Relations Coordinator for SAT-7 PARS and co-presenter of the program. “There are children in Iran who are praying for you and love you. One day we will be able to hold one another’s hands and will praise God together that these difficult days passed.’
“We are children of light”
Minorities, including ethnic Hazaras and Christians, are also especially at risk. Some believers have reported receiving death threats. There are also isolated reports of fighters checking phones for Bible apps, and one report of a Hazara Christian being killed on the spot when one was discovered. Some are even receiving threats from their own family members, as they seek to distance themselves and gain favour with the Taliban.
In Pursuit of Hope began with spiritual guidance for Christians in the region from presenters Rev. Mo Sanavi and Rahel. “This is a time when the very sky seems to grow dark above us. But we can come together and worship the Lord and bring our requests before Him,” said Mo. He also urged viewers to take Christ as their example. “According to the norms in our society, the response when someone harms you is to curse them and wish death upon them. But Jesus Christ says, ‘seek their blessing’. We who are the children of light must be different.”
In addition to two special live programs produced to support Afghanistan, SAT-7 PARS broadcasts two Christian programs in Dari, the version of the Persian language spoken in the country. The channel also produces several regular women’s programs, and two especially for children, in Farsi, which is also easily understood by Afghans.