Afghanistan dispatches: Taliban use electric shock devices to frighten women seeking passports
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Afghanistan dispatches: Taliban use electric shock devices to frighten women seeking passports

Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban takeover. Here, a female law student reports on what she witnessed Wednesday while waiting for a passport in one of the country’s major cities. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding her name. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

Today I went to the passport office for biometric passports. I went yesterday too. Yesterday at the office a man took our names for biometric passports and said that we should come back tomorrow at 12 noon and the same biometric list would be done in order.  So today my mother and sisters and I were at the passport office at noon. There was a long line and we joined the line and we waited for an hour and a half and then we were allowed in.

Hundreds of women lined up for biometrics but there was no order. The Taliban used an electric shock device [stun gun] to scare the women for making line. But there was no order.  They have no ability to control and plan, there was no definite queue, and for this large crowd of women there were only two biometric devices.

Usually, afternoon is the turn of women at the passport office. According to the rules, the office has to work from 01:00 PM up to 04:00 PM in the afternoon shift. But now they work from 01:30 PM up to 03:00 PM. Many women go through the hustle and bustle for several days hoping to get biometric, but employees stop working sooner.

Today at the passport office, a woman was talking on her phone, but a Taliban scared her with an electronic shock and said, “Turn off your cell phone.” The Taliban thought that the woman was filming the situation. They do not want anyone to see this disorder and violence.

There are no guidelines, people don’t what know to do. I tried to guide and help women whose documents were incomplete, but no one was responsible. Some women were in the wrong line because they did not know which documents they should have. The Taliban have ruined their families without taking into account the rights of others and with no one inside to carry out the passport work.

Today I was in the midst of a catastrophe. It was a very bad day, with a big crowd of people, Taliban and staff violence, disorder and injustice. I tried to talk to some of the Taliban and ask about yesterday’s list, but they did not care and shouted that the list was not working and the list was missing. The people did not obey, because there was no order. No one listened to them and they had gone there and no one had done their job for days. I think it was more like a riot. I was there for 4 hours.

Today I was so scared, of electronic shock, of violence. I was afraid that my little sisters would be harmed. To control people, you must take turns, everything must be systematic. There must be order, not an electronic shock.