Afghan women were buried alive in an earthquake because they were afraid to leave their homes without hijabs and rescue workers would not violate Taliban rules on “mixing” with women

  • Strict Taliban rules led to higher female death toll in Afghanistan earthquakes
  • The magnitude 6.3 quake on October 7th was followed by several smaller quakes
  • The United Nations had previously said the country’s strict rules were harming women

It has emerged that Afghan women were buried alive in their homes after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake because they were afraid to go outside without headscarves.

Rescue efforts after the Oct. 7 earthquake that rocked western Afghanistan and killed more than 2,000 people were also hampered by a Taliban directive banning contact between women and men who do not know each other.

An anonymous rescue worker told the Telegraph that the arbitrary rules made male rescuers reluctant to help women, leading to a higher death toll among women.

U.N. aid agencies said 90% of the victims in a major Afghan city, Herat, were women and children.

“Most of the patients were women and children because they were at home at the time of the earthquake,” said Dr. Qasem Sadat, a health official in the region.

In recent years, the Taliban have increasingly locked women in their homes

In recent years, the Taliban have increasingly locked women in their homes

Many women died in the quake because they were afraid of what might happen if they left their homes without a headscarf

Many women died in the quake because they were afraid of what might happen if they left their homes without a headscarf

Male rescue workers were reluctant to save women's lives because of a strict Taliban directive that prevents men from having sex with unknown women

Male rescue workers were reluctant to save women’s lives because of a strict Taliban directive that prevents men from having sex with unknown women

A UN official claimed that if the earthquake had struck Afghanistan at night, the gender imbalance would have been much less pronounced as men would have been at home instead of at work.

Women are increasingly confined to their homes as the Taliban have tightened their rules over the past two years about what women can and cannot do.

The UN revealed that several women affected by the earthquake were unable to access assistance without a male relative’s identity card.

Cultural norms made it impossible for women to share tents with their neighbors or other family members, the UN said.

“When natural disasters strike, women and girls are the most affected and are often the least considered in crisis response and recovery,” Alison Davidian, the U.N. special representative for women in Afghanistan, said in a message to the Associated Press at the time of the quake.

Several thousand people died in the earthquake. A U.N. official said the gender imbalance in deaths would be far smaller if the quake occurred at night

Several thousand people died in the earthquake. A U.N. official said the gender imbalance in deaths would be far smaller if the quake occurred at night

Women report enormous difficulty getting help if they do not have an ID card from a male relative

Women report enormous difficulty getting help if they do not have an ID card from a male relative

Entire villages were leveled by the magnitude 6.3 quake, followed by several more tremors

Entire villages were leveled by the magnitude 6.3 quake, followed by several more tremors

“The earthquakes, combined with the ongoing humanitarian and women’s rights crisis, have made the situation for women and girls not only difficult but deadly.”

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported earlier this month that the earthquake, which was followed by several other smaller quakes, destroyed more than 21,500 homes and severely damaged over 17,000 homes.

This left around 154,000 people in terrible condition and in some cases villages in the region were almost completely leveled.

According to the United Nations, 15 villages have been destroyed so far and 41 have been moderately or severely affected.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said shortly after the main quake that “up to 1,000 or more people were living in some villages.” There were 300 houses. Only 100 people survived.’

Janice Dean

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: janicedean@wstpost.com.

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