August 15, 2021, Afghanistan. The Taliban, having defeated the Afghan security forces in other areas of the country, entered the capital of Kabul, thus solidifying their total takeover of the country. United States military, diplomatic and business personnel, as well as other foreign nationals were evacuated, as thousands of Afghans tried to secure an escape as well. But most people of the country, exhausted from twenty years of war, had no options but to face what is presumed will be a strict and deadly regime.

A Taliban spokesperson told a BBC reporter that they will reimpose their version of Sharia (religious) law, which includes such things as stoning for adultery and amputation of limbs for stealing. The fate of women is uncertain. The spokesperson assured the BBC that women would be respected, allowed to work, and be able leave their homes without a male escort; girls would be able to go to school. But this was not true when the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 – 2001. Women who for two decades have had those rights, now worry their freedom will be taken away. Those who have attained professional and political power fear they will be killed. The women and girls of Afghanistan face an uncertain future and will need courage, strength, international support, and empathy for their suffering. The latter is expressed in the following prayer psalm.

And so we pray this news . . .

"God of Justice and Mercy,
Hear my cry;
Hear the wail of my sisters.

See our lives in disorder,
Our dreams of peace and security in the dust. . . .

We are cast aside by the powerful.
Our strength ebbs with each sigh of despair.

Stress is our constant companion,
We watch our world crumble
and can only weep.

But You, God, can give us strength.
You can nourish our souls and
revitalize our minds.

You can touch us with Wisdom,
Banish sorrow from our brows. . . .

You have granted Wisdom to women of ages past.
You have healed the sick and
brought forth life from the old.

You have raised up the lowly and
felled the powerful.
You have been just and sure.

With Your aid, we waver no more.
We stand up in faith and praise. . . .

For You are the God of Grace,
Mighty in Justice and Mercy."

-- adapted from "Psalm of Wailing Women" by Diane Kessler
in Lifting Women's Voices: Prayers to Change the World

Other ways to help Afghan women and girls:

Women for Afghan Women: This non-profit organization has been fighting for the rights of Afghan women for 20 years. Today, they are trying to help the women's rights activists they work with throughout the country who are in extreme danger from the Taliban. To support their critical work, you can make a donation at https://amgrl.co/3AJgRwL
CARE: One of the world's largest humanitarian aid organizations, CARE has a long history of helping people in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, there has been a huge increase in the demand for emergency aid as many families have fled the Taliban. You can support their work in Afghanistan with a donation at https://amgrl.co/3iOeSBp

Also Recommended:
The Breadwinner: An animated feature about a young girl who defies the Taliban in Afghanistan through her courage and storytelling.

Editorial by Malala Yousafzai: I Fear for My Afghan Sisters

Photo Credit: This iStock photo by Christophe Cerisier from 2012 shows Afghan women at the site of the Bamyan giant Buddhas, which were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban – an act demonstrating the group's religious intolerance.


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