Admission (CNN) – The busy Kabul street looks as if nothing has changed. People rush, merchants organize their colorful wares and police direct traffic.
The Taliban have repeatedly said that women’s rights will be protected under their rule, but it is clear that many Afghans are terrified at the prospect of living under the Taliban regime.
Now there are far fewer women taking to the streets, compared to just a few days ago. Those who defy the outside world tend to dress more conservatively than before, often with their faces covered by a niqab or veil.
Many bold, educated women who have spent the past decade building their careers are desperately looking for a way out, fearful that they may be targeted by the Taliban.
“I’m thinking about my future, my daughters, what would happen to them if they killed me? Two daughters without a mother,” one woman told CNN.
The woman, whose name CNN did not name for security reasons, has worked with several international NGOs. He said he spent desperate days asking for their help, but none of them responded.
“It is not easy… to have more than 10 years of work experience [organizaciones] internationals and none of them helped me.”
Fear is everywhere
For a clothing store in central Kabul, the Taliban’s takeover of power boosted business; The owner told CNN that he has sold several burqas in the past few days.
The dress covers the body from head to toe, with a mesh panel over the eyes. It was a mandatory dress for women when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan in the 1990’s.
The burqa has become a less common image in Kabul over the past two decades, but news of the Taliban’s return to power has led to a surge in sales.
The merchant said his customers are mostly men who are afraid and buy them for their wives, daughters and other women in their lives because they feel that from now on, wearing a burqa may be the only way to stay safe on the streets.
This is the tense reality of life in Kabul now.
For now, the Taliban insist life should go on as usual and have called on government employees to go back to work.
The group’s leaders insist that there is no danger to the “property, honor and life” of Afghan citizens, and have asked their fighters not to enter people’s homes or impound their cars.
However, promises alone are not enough to ease people’s fears.
The heavily armed Taliban fighters patrolling downtown Kabul may not yet impose strict rules on people’s lives, but the fear that this could change at any moment is rife.
CNN’s Clarissa Ward and Brent Swells reported from Kabul, Afghanistan. CNN’s Ivana Kutsova wrote from London.
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