With the arrest of relief worker Mary MacMakin on July 11 and her deportation ordered by the Taliban on July 12, non-governmential aid organizations in Afghanistan are working in a tense atmosphere. A survey of the 40 international aid organizations in Kabul conducted yesterday revealed that their Afghan women employees had not gone to work, fearing Taliban retaliation. U.N. officials are still deciphering whether a far-reaching “crackdown” on women’s employment has been ordered, or whether a single Taliban minister is behind the move, the Associated Press reported late yesterday. International humanitarian groups received a letter of warning last week, and American relief worker Mary MacMakin was arrested yesterday and held in a juvenile detention center, apparently as a part of a crackdown, and was ordered today to leave Afghanistan within 24 hours.
U.N. officials confirmed, in a late-breaking story by the AP, that MacMakin and the seven Afghan women arrested with her were released today and ordered to leave Afghanistan. The women say they were treated well. MacMakin’s Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support of Afghan Women (PARSA) teaches practical farming and crafts skills to Afghan widows.
Since the Taliban forcefully took power in Afghanistan, women and girls have been living under a reign of terror. Barred from working outside the home, women are forced to wear the all-covering burqa, and are living under virtual house arrest. Employing Afghan women is essential not only to the economic survival of the 28,000 widows in Afghanistan (where women are not allowed to leave the home without a close male relative), but to the thousands of children served by international humanitarian aid organizations.