A 27-year-old female mayor in Afghanistan says the Taliban ‘will come for people like me and kill me’

Zarifa Ghafari
Zarifa Ghafari, of Afghanistan, speaks during the 2020 International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • A prominent female mayor in Afghanistan says the Taliban “will come for people like me and kill me.”
  • Zarifa Ghafari, 27, is the country’s youngest mayor and the first female mayor of her province.
  • Ghafari has survived attempts on her life already, and her father was assassinated in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A prominent female mayor and women’s rights advocate in Afghanistan said the Taliban “will come for people like me and kill me” as the militant Islamist group retook control of the country.

Zarifa Ghafari, 27, leads the city of Maidan Sharh. She’s Afghanistan’s youngest mayor, became the first female mayor of the Maidan Wardak province in 2018, and has championed women’s rights in Afghanistan for years, hosting her own radio show and founding an NGO focused on empowering women economically.

“I’m sitting here waiting for them to come,” Ghafari told the UK’s iNews of the Taliban. “There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me. I can’t leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?”

The collapse of Afghanistan’s government following the US military’s withdrawal from the nation and the resurgence of Taliban control of the country directly threatens the safety of women in Afghanistan, especially activists, journalists, and female politicians like Ghafari.

Ghafari has faced resistance to her leadership in her relatively conservative province, numerous death threats, and survived multiple attempts on her life already.

And in November 2020, her father, Abdul Wasi Ghafari, a colonel in the Afghan army, was assassinated in Kabul. Ghafari attributed the fatal attack to the Taliban.

“They don’t want me in Maidan Shar. That is why they killed my dad,” Ghafari said at the time, according to The New York Times.

“I am so broken,” she went on to say. “I don’t know who to rely on. But I won’t stop now even if they come after me again. I am not scared to die anymore.”

In May 2021, Ghafari told Time Magazine that the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan also wouldn’t deter her.

“For more than 60 years, men have had all the opportunities, but they haven’t succeeded or found solutions for ongoing conflicts,” Ghafari told the outlet. “I’m so confident that we, as women, can do better than anyone else.”