*This piece was originally published by CNN on August 22, 2021. Find the original here.
(CNN) A female journalist receives a call warning that they “will come soon.” A woman lawmaker sits and waits for her killers. A little girl wonders how much longer her school gates will remain open.
For Afghanistan’s women and girls, this is the terrifying uncertainty they now find themselves in.
As Taliban leaders tell international media they “don’t want women to be victimized,” a more sinister reality is unfolding on the ground.
Girls are being forced into marriage, female bank workers marched from their jobs, and activists’ homes raided in a clear message that the freedoms of the last 20 years are coming to an end.
“Do we take them for their word and say: ‘Oh it’s going to be fine, this is Taliban 2.0, they’ve evolved.’ Or do we take them for their actions?” said Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, founder and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) and director of the Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics.
Anderlini, who spearheads ICAN’s Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), said a huge concern was what will happen to the Taliban’s apparently moderate tone once most of the international community has left Afghanistan.
“Once the diplomats leave, the journalists leave, the international NGOs leave, they are going to basically lock the doors… God knows what we’ll see then,” she said.
Here’s a look at what life could look like for women and girls under the Taliban.