Jawzjan women take up arms against Taliban, ISIL

By Izazullah

A group of 15 Jawzjan Province women who took up arms to battle the Taliban are shown in early November. [Courtesy of Izazullah]

A group of 15 Jawzjan Province women who took up arms to battle the Taliban are shown in early November. [Courtesy of Izazullah]

KABUL -- The women of Jawzjan Province are standing up to militants, joining an on-going popular uprising to fight the Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

"It is common practice in Afghanistan for women to help their husbands in every field of life, and hence they are known for their heroism throughout history," said Mahbooba Siraj, adviser to the first lady of Afghanistan.

The Jawzjan women fighting the insurgents are exemplary Afghan women who say that if they drive off the Taliban it will help bring stability and peace to the country, she said.

"Everyone from this group has lost one of her family members; they were innocents," she told Salaam Times. "But insurgents killed them, and it is an atrocity for the Taliban to kill innocent people."

Women fighting for their families, future

On November 1, a group of 15 armed women raised their voices and took a stand in Darzab District of Jawzjan Province to fight insurgents in the region, said Mohammad Reza Ghafoori, spokesman for Jawzjan Province.

"These women are supported by the local government," he told Salaam Times. "This shows how Afghan women are against the Taliban and how they are [fighting] for their own country."

"Insurgents do not have the courage to face our national defence and security forces; this is why they are attacking the public," Ghafoori said. "This is the end of their power. They are hiding in people's houses, in mosques and in schools. They're killing people who are not part of the war."

The women of Jawzjan have "picked up weapons to fight against the Taliban and ISIL insurgents and the security forces have praised their courage and heroism", he said.

This group of women took up arms after a spike in oppression by Taliban and ISIL insurgents who targeted them and killed their family members, Darzab District Governor Ramatullah Hashar said at a recent news conference.

The women want revenge, he said.

"They are fighting for revenge, but still they want to finish the insurgents and bring hope for other families," he said. "They are from our army family. They are the public army of Afghanistan."

Fatima, a member of the popular armed women's group, said recently that she lost her son, a shopkeeper, to terrorist violence.

"This is our fight; we are proud to fight insurgents, and it is a sign of our preparation for protecting our country," she said, pledging that the group will stand with the Afghan National Army to protect the country and people from the Taliban and ISIL.

Saliha, another member of the group, asked the local government to support it and said it in turn would support its brothers in the army.

Army, police support uprising against insurgents

This is not the first time a group of Afghan women has taken up arms to fight anti-state elements.

A group of women in neighbouring Faryab Province has announced that it is preparing to fight insurgents, although more-specific information is not yet available.

Women in Sheberghan, Jawzjan Province, praised the move by the Jawzjan anti-militant group, saying that it shows the readiness of women to defend the country.

At a recent Balkh Province event, Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) officials and community leaders lauded the Jawzjan women's dedication and urged families around the country to support sisters and daughters who are considering military service.

The Afghan police support the heroic women standing against ISIL and the Taliban, said Syed Kamal Sadaat, the commander of police in Balkh Province.

"We really support them and we need them in our army," he told Salaam Times. "They are the epitome of Afghan women; they are the examplar of the whole nation, the real heroes."

"Female [police] officers play a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the country," he said. "Women are quite important for the police, because they help male officers establish rule of law in the community."

For instance, he said, only female police officers can acceptably search or investigate other women or go inside family homes.

"We want families to support their loved ones who want to join the ANDSF and serve the people," he said.

Women strengthen the ANDSF and have shown their bravery in service to protect the country, Mahboba Sadaat, a member of the Balkh Provincial Council, told Salaam Times.

"There many brave women in Islamic history who have fought for justice and helped our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to expand Islam," she said, expressing gratitude to male officers for their support of female colleagues.

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