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When the Taliban last held power between 1996 and 2001, women could only be seen in public with a male escort and their bodies fully covered.
On Monday, United Nations (UN) Secretary Antonio Guterres asked the international community to work together to "suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan" since the Taliban took control of Kabul city.
"We must speak with one voice to defend human rights in Afghanistan," Guterres said, adding concern about the future of Afghan women and girls, whose hard-won rights are at risk of disappearing.
When the Taliban last held power between 1996 and 2001, women were denied education and employment opportunities. Girls could not attend school, and women could only be seen in public with a male escort and their bodies fully covered. Punishment for disobeying these strict rules was severe and ranged from beating to execution.
From 2001 until the Taliban took power this week, Afghan women's rights had been gradually expanding. As a result, for example, more girls attended schools and their mortality rates decreased. Although the Taliban recently vowed they would not harm anyone, most human rights defenders do not trust their statements.
"I still cannot believe the takeover... Please pray for us, do not be silent. The Taliban come to kill us," Afghan woman filmmaker Sahraa Karimi said in tears.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to be Afghanistan's new President (Ameer) as Ashraf Ghani resigns. He was Deputy of Mullah Omar. International Media reports pic.twitter.com/ECppwHLlwM
According to the UN, 80 percent of the nearly 250,000 Afghan people who have been forced to flee their homes since May are women and children. Besides, amid the takeover of Kabul city, the number of killed and injured women has significantly increased.
Women's advocacy organizations are voicing their pleas to protect Afghan women. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) Director Melanne Verveer called on the United States to charter direct evacuation flights for Afghan women activists.
Women for Women International (WFWI), an organization supporiting war survivors, is collecting donations so Afghans can access safe places and stay connected.
"Whatever happens in the coming days, we hold to the idea that women can and should help shape the future of Afghanistan. Our international supporter community matters now more than ever," WFWI stated.