Afghanistan women in Iran say they confront dire challenges

A number of women and girls from Afghanistan who have left to Iran over the past two years shed light on the severe obstacles they face in their adopted homeland. They decried the Taliban’s restrictions in Afghanistan, which drove them to seek refuge in Iran, and expressed deep frustration with what they see as the “indifference” of the United Nations office in Tehran towards Afghanistan immigrants, particularly women and girls.

Hadia Sahibzada, a young woman who pursued studies in law and political science in Kabul, is among the many who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover.

She said that the harsh constraints imposed by the Taliban compelled her to embark on the arduous journey of immigration to Iran.

Sahibzada sharply criticizes what she characterized as the United Nations Office in Iran’s apathy towards Afghanistan immigrants, especially women and girls.

“We implore the world to take notice of Afghan women in Iran. The United Nations has remained unresponsive to our plight thus far. We yearn for our grievances to be addressed and for resettlement opportunities,” she stated.

Sahar Alemi, a former member of Afghanistan’s national wushu team and a social activist, said she faces a life of labor in Iran.

She explained that the Taliban’s restrictions on employment and education forced her to migrate, and today, she toils in a textile factory.

According to Sahar, Afghanistan women and girls confront challenging economic conditions in Iran.

“The majority of Afghans engage in strenuous labor, yet they receive inadequate compensation or are denied their full wages,” she elaborated.

Sahar Alemi, a migrant from Afghanistan, says she has turned to hard labour in Iran.

Other women shared tales of their children being denied access to education, formidable hurdles in obtaining residence documents, the soaring cost of living, unavailability of bank cards, and other pressing challenges.

“We find ourselves compelled to undertake demanding jobs merely to secure a modest income and sustain our lives. We are still deprived of our right to education. When we attempt to enroll our children in school, they are turned away,” Qadria Nawrozi, an refugee from Afghanistan in Iran, described their struggle.

Anisa, another refugee from Afghansitan, recounted the multitude of obstacles they encounter in Iran.

“Our hardships here are myriad. The fate of our family and children remains uncertain. My husband’s income falls short of providing for our children and covering our housing expenses,” she said.

Afghanistan refugees who sought asylum in Iran following the fall of Kabul in August 2021 aspire to be resettled in countries that accept refugees. However, they contend that their appeals and concerns go unanswered by the United Nations. Regrettably, the United Nations Office in Iran has yet to respond to the grievances voiced by Afghanistan refugees, leaving their hopes for assistance and resettlement in limbo.