Orlando family concerned for American-Afghan woman still in Taliban-controlled country

ORLANDO, Fla. – The collapse of Afghanistan has left many U.S. citizens stuck in the now Taliba-controlled county including Seema Azim’s aunt who hasn’t been able to fly back home to Central Florida because accessing Kabul’s airport has been nearly impossible.

Azim, a 22-year-old UCF graduate, said her aunt left in May to visit her daughter in Afghanistan as the Taliban was making its way through the country and taking control of major cities--including the capitol. Since the Taliban seized Kabul, her aunt can no longer go outside without the company of a man, according to Azim.

“They’re not letting her inside; she can’t explain her situation and unfortunately that creates a dangerous situation for her family members that are with her -- you know, knowing that these people are helping a U.S. citizen,” Azim said.

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The family said they’ve reached out to local representatives and are waiting for a response. Azim said each time they reach out they are told to fill out another form or provided differing instructions.

“It’s just another form--fill out this form, and you know, or meet here, meet there--the location has been compromised or they’re not there even ... so, it’s a whole lot of going around in circles,” she said.

Azim said she’s also worried about other family members who live in Afghanistan.

“Our cousins, especially the girls who are unmarried who used to go to school who used to go to work who had jobs you know, now they’re staying home, they’re afraid of going outside you know-- encountering the Taliban,” she said.

Owen Kirby traveled to Afghanistan days before the country’s collapse. He’s a fellow part of UCF’s Global Perspectives International Initiatives program. Kirby feels the country may face a setback and lose everything they have worked for the past two decades.

“There was, you know, quite a significant number of accomplishments in progress made by women over the past 20 years, and of course right now the concern is all of this is at risk,” Kirby said. “The Taliban have said that ... women will have their freedoms, however, those freedoms and those liberties will be according to Sharia law--will be according to their interpretation of Sharia law. What this means in practice is to be seen.”

The Sharia law is based on the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

“The Taliban have a much more sort of regressive, or have had a much more regressive interpretation, of the Quran and of Islam than other countries perhaps in the region. The situation is not as regressive perhaps (as) Pakistan, it’s not as regressive in the United Arab Emirates and a number of other Muslim countries,” Kirby said. “All we have right now to go off is their track record and the last time they were in power in the 1990s women could not go to school and women could not be in the workforce. It’s really going to be a test for the intentions of the Taliban. How do they intend to rule this country and administer it moving forward? I think it’s up to the international community to ensure that pressure is kept on them.”


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.