Rabia was just 15-years-old when she became engaged to a Taliban officer against her will in a small village in Afghanistan.
Now 22-years-old, Rabia has fled Afghanistan and has managed to get away from the man who made her adolescence hell. She is temporarily living in Pakistan, but she’s hopeful she will ultimately be able to claim asylum in either Canada or the UK so she can build a life for herself.
Like so many others, Rabia had no choice but to flee when the Taliban seized power. She is a lesbian, which makes her a threat to Taliban rule. To make matters worse, she knew the man she was engaged to as a teenager was still trying to track her down.
That’s why she and a friend – another lesbian – decided to travel to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We had lots of problems because the Taliban stopped us along the way several times,” Rabia tells PinkNews.
Thankfully, Rabia and her friend managed to get into Pakistan with the help of a journalist who advocated for them at the border – but she wishes leaving was never a necessity in the first place.
As women, lesbians will be subjected to the brutal sex based oppression imposed on them by the Taliban, as well as being subjected to the brutal penalties for homosexuality, worsening the already dire position of lesbians in Afghanistan.
Those who concern me most, as a journalist who reported on the last takeover by the Taliban, are the women, girls and LGBT+ people of Afghanistan. It would be impossible to overstate the terrors they each face, now, simply by the mere fact of their existence in a male-dominated, cis-het society in which they have no real place and in which they are at best second-class citizens with no autonomy. Reporters in Afghanistan are already detailing the threat. And if they weren’t, the Taliban leadership has itself been succinct: Sharia law — Islamic law, religious law — will define everything in Afghanistan going forward. Within that construct there is no room for female, queer or trans autonomy. Imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality has been classified as judicial murder of gay and lesbian people; a form of genocide. Yet it is, according to Afghans and human rights advocates, imminent. On August 16, Nemat Sadat, the first gay Afghan to come out publicly, tweeted: “It’s not hyperbole to say that the Taliban will do what Nazis did to homosexuals: weed them out and exterminate them from Afghan society. Please help.” Last month, Gul Rahim, a Taliban judge, told the German newspaper Bild that, “There are only two penalties for gays: either stoning or they have to stand behind a wall that falls on them. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters [about 10 feet] high.” I have reported on “corrective rape” and honor killings of lesbians for various publications. I reported on lesbian asylum seekers fleeing Sharia law to the U.K. and stringent new asylum laws here in the U.S. NGOs have reported for years that gay men and lesbians have been raped as punishment–which the U.S. government knows. “[Gays and lesbians] continued to face arrest by security forces and discrimination, assault, and rape,” said the U.S. State Department’s country report on Afghanistan in 2020.
On 1 August 2021 Listening2Lesbians provided submissions in response to the following from the Commission on the Status of Women:
“Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world. The Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual programme of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.”
Information was provided to the UN on incidents dating back approximately 2.5 years across the 57 countries we have reported on in that time.
Legal, social and familial punishment of lesbians for failing to conform with the expectations imposed on women illuminates the status of women around the world. Homosexuality is understood to be a breach of sex-based expectations. Strictly enforced sex roles are accompanied by increased consequences for those who break them, individually or collectively. Lesbians, or women read as lesbians, are doubly punishable for their non-conformity, both overt and inferred.
Listening2Lesbians is not an expert on these countries and provided this information to augment and support the information provided by women from individual communities. We can only provide information on cases we have been able to locate and based our submissions solely around the available facts. Please note that we welcome corrections and updates.
We are painfully aware of the many communities not represented.
Anyone with information on missing communities is invited to contact us with information on reporting violence and discrimination against lesbians in their community.
FIFA on Saturday barred the president of Afghanistan’s soccer association from the sport for life, months after reports emerged that he had sexually assaulted players and had threatened them when they went public with their accusations.
Women who rebuffed his advances were labeled lesbians and expelled from the team, according to eight former players who said that it had happened to them. Those who went public said they faced intimidation.
“They were pushing and forcing the girls. Coercing them.”
Popal also accused [President of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) Keramuudin] Karim himself of beating a girl with a snooker cue and calling players lesbians to stop them speaking out.
“If they spoke out, no one would listen to them because being accused of being lesbian or gay in Afghanistan is a topic you don’t speak about and puts you and your family in a lot of danger,” she said.