The Taliban are back in Afghanistan. They control most of the south and are gradually forming a substitute regime. British forces had to withdraw from certain districts and leave them in the hands of insurgents. In these areas beyond the reach of the law, the people are tired of chaos and disappointed with the government, so they are backing the fighters. What’s more, coalition forces, endeavoring to see their dream of democracy come true, have been excessive in their air attacks, killing hundreds of civilian victims and leaving thousands of displaced persons. Nothing stays the same with the Taliban : fighters now are young men from poor rural areas, often illiterate and convinced that they are serving a just cause. They are part of the fabric of Afghan society and operate like a reserve army, working out in the fields during the day, then ready to respond to a call that comes in on the cell phones.
The main victims of these “new wave Taliban” are women: there is the revival of the burqa, attacks on girls’ schools which have been systematically burnt and their directors targeted. In 2006/2007, more than 20 teachers have been savagely murdered, 198 schools have been burnt down, dozens of women working for international NGOs have been hanged, and any who have escaped receive regular death threats. Despite this reign of terror, a number of defiant women are still putting up a fight; for example Faouzia who, disregarding threats, continues to look after the women in the region of Helmand, and Malalai Kakar and her 17 policewomen who work in Kandahar, tracking down criminals and protecting their sisters.