A female volleyball player in Afghanistan was reportedly beheaded in early October by the Taliban in Kabul as the newly-installed government continues its repressive policies towards women in the country. 

Mahjubin Hakimi, a player for the Kabul Municipality Volleyball Club, was the youth club’s star player before the Taliban takeover in August 2021. But as photographs of her disembodied head and neck spread across social media, Suraya Afzali, one of her coaches, confirms that she had been abducted and decapitated by the Taliban, according to India Today

“All the players of the volleyball team and the rest of the women athletes are in a bad situation and in despair and fear,” Afzali said. “Everyone has been forced to flee and live underground.”

The Taliban has targeted female athletes as they continue to search for the women who competed in competitions domestically and abroad. Only two members of Afghanistan’s national volleyball team were able to leave the country during the August evacuations, the India Times reported.

Despite a promise to uphold the rights of women in the country, the Taliban continues to partake in policies that are repressive to women, including one that keeps women from returning to secondary school. Many women fear that this is only the beginning, al-Jazeera reported. 

“The streets of Afghanistan are no longer a safe place for women. The resistance is a path to light. But what if women’s resistance to the Taliban will be met with whips and guns?” women’s rights activist Homeira Qaderi said. 

“I’m afraid that from now on, the girls will be stuck at home, while boys continue their education. I look in the mirror and [realize] that all my plans are a distant dream. I feel like I am slowly dying,” Meena Naeemi, a Master’s student in the country, said. 

As the focus on the Taliban shifts to its moves towards legitimacy and international relations, women fear that their voices and needs will not be heard as their rights are slowly taken away.

“Violence against women is systematic in the [behavior] of the Taliban government. If the Taliban do not use violence against women, they will lose their identity,” Qaderi said. “I hope the world does not turn its back on Afghan women again.”

mohamed-nohassi-aDTMGRdx28w-unsplash As the star athlete of a women's volleyball team is beheaded, women in Afghanistan find that the Taliban are refusing to uphold the human rights of women. This is a representational image. Mohamed Nohassi/Unsplash.