Women's rights activist murdered in Afghanistan

Frozan Safi, a 29-year-old women's rights activist, was found shot dead in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Frozan Safi, a 29-year-old women's rights activist and business lecturer, was shot dead in northern Afghanistan. Her body was identified two weeks after her disappearance on Oct. 20, 2021. Safi's sister, herself a doctor, told The Guardian, "We recognized her by her clothes. Her face was destroyed by bullets. She had bullet wounds everywhere, too many to count, on her head, heart, chest, kidneys and legs." The killing of Frozan Safi is the first known case of a women's rights activist murdered since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Taliban security forces brought the bodies of two unidentified women who had been shot to the hospital in Balkh province, said Meraj Faroqi, a doctor there. They were found with the bodies of two men in a house in Mazar-i-Sharif, said Zabihullah Noorani, the Taliban director of information and cultural affairs in Balkh province, suggesting they may have been victims of a "personal feud." Police are investigating the case, he said. The deaths underscore the pervasive sense of fear in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, where a series of reprisal killings of people linked to the former government has created an atmosphere of impunity.

Women protest against Taliban

Even though the Taliban try to present themselves as "moderate" to the outside world, women are being restricted more and more, step by step. Hardly a day goes by without more professions being banned for women. Schooling for girls has also been massively restricted. On Thursday, Human Rights Watch reported that Taliban regulations prohibit most women from working as aid workers in the country, accelerating the looming humanitarian disaster. The Taliban has made its repressive apparatus more effective. Activists tell the Guardian that the Taliban specialize in particular in infiltrating and threatening women's groups.

Intimidation campaign by the Taliban?

Frozan disappeared after receiving a call from an anonymous number telling her to collect evidence of her political work and go to a safe house. According to her sister, Frozan thought her asylum application in Germany was finally being processed. She collected her documents and left the house. That was the last time her sister saw her. Frozan had previously participated in protests against the Taliban. The Taliban brutally suppressed the protests, beat the women with electric batons and tortured journalists.