Dispatches from Afghanistan: Taliban use electric shocks to scare women seeking passports – JURIST


Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan file reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban took over. Here, a law student recounts what she witnessed on Wednesday while waiting for a passport in one of the country’s major cities. For confidentiality and security reasons, we retain his name. The text has only been slightly modified to respect the author’s voice.

Today I went to the passport office for biometric passports. I went there yesterday too. Yesterday at the office a man took our names for biometric passports and said we have to come back tomorrow at noon and the same biometric list will be done in order. So today my mother, my sisters and I were at the passport office at noon. There was a long line and we joined the line and waited for 1.5 hours and then we were allowed in.

Hundreds of women lined up for biometrics, but there was no order. The Taliban used an electric shock device [stun gun] to scare women to do the line. But there was no order. They have no ability to control and schedule, there was no defined queue, and for this large crowd of women, there were only two biometric devices.

Usually the afternoon is the women’s turn at the passport office. According to the rules, the office must work from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. But now they operate from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Many women go through the hustle and bustle for several days hoping to get biometrics, but employees stop work early.

Today at the passport office, a woman was talking on the phone, but a Taliban scared her with an electronic shock and said, “Turn off your cell phone.” The Taliban believed the woman was filming the situation. They don’t want anyone to see this mess and violence.

There are no guidelines, people don’t know what to do. I tried to guide and help women whose documents were incomplete, but no one was responsible. Some women took the wrong line because they did not know what documents they needed to have. The Taliban ruined their families with no regard for the rights of others and no one inside to do the passport work.

Today I was in the middle of a disaster. It was a very bad day, with a large crowd of people, Taliban and staff, violence, disorder and injustice. I tried to talk to some Taliban and ask them for yesterday’s list, but they didn’t care and shouted that the list was not working and was missing. People didn’t obey, because there was no order. No one was listening to them and they had gone there and no one had done their job for days. I think it was more like a riot. I stayed there for 4 hours.

Today I was so scared, of the electronic shock, of the violence. I was afraid that my little sisters would be hurt. To control people, you have to take turns, everything must be systematic. There must be order, not electronic shock.


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