Too Young to Wed featured for Afghanistan Work

Click to read the New York Times feature of our work evacuating vulnerable women from Kabul.

Two nonprofit organizations that have been trying, with disappointing results, to help scores of prominent Afghan women and their families escape their country have been finding increasingly formidable obstacles in their paths.

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, the founder and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.,-based International Civil Society Action Network, said the group has been trying to find room on charter flights for the Afghans, who include journalists, human rights activists and others. But the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday has made those efforts much more difficult.

“In the last day or two, I am getting a lot of women telling me goodbye. Women starting to give up,” said Deeyah Khan, an International Civil Society Action Network board member and a documentary filmmaker. “The least we can do is make sure they don’t stand completely alone.”

Too Young to Wed, a nonprofit based in Peekskill, N.Y., that was founded by the photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair, has also been trying to organize charter flights to evacuate prominent Afghan women since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

As of Saturday, Ms. Sinclair said the group had only been able to help about 60 women and their families leave the country on flights and is now considering trying to organize evacuations by land that would involve a long, dangerous journey to border areas.

“It is heartbreaking and terrifying that this generation of women leaders have to fear their lives, for simply having dreams and wanting to have a purpose in life as a woman,” Ms. Sinclair said.

The two organizations have received calls and messages from Afghan women who are unsure what to do and how to keep their family members safe.

The Taliban’s chief spokesman has said that “there will be no violence against women” under the new regime. Zabihullah Mujahid promised this week that “no prejudice against women will be allowed” and said that they could participate in society — “within the bounds of Islamic law.”

But in social media posts and interviews, many Afghan women say the Taliban have already imposed some restrictions. Some women who were employees of the former government have stopped going to work, fearing retribution.

“I am waiting for some kind of miracle to take me out of this country,” said Hosay, 24, a college student in Kabul who wanted to create an engineering company led by women engineers. “My future under the Taliban is a dead end.”

— Lauren McCarthy and Farnaz Fassihi