What happened? At a time when the world is warning of the disastrous winter conditions in Afghanistan, local sources in Herat province confirmed to Reporterly that the Taliban have beaten up dozens of women and children for using the public baths that were temporarily opened due to severe cold conditions.
- Mohammad Ibrahim (pseudonym), a resident of Herat city, told Reporterly that over the last two weeks, Herat has witnessed some of its coldest days and the water supply to most of the houses has been cut off.
- He said that over these few days in several places after the request of a number of residents, the owners of several public baths in the province allowed women and children to use the services for a few hours. Their male guardians had been stationed outside the bath at the time they used the services.
- Ibrahim said that once the Taliban became aware of this, its fighters attacked the mentioned baths and beat up men, women and children and arrested the owners of several baths along with local elders.
- Another resident of Herat told Reporterly, “For more than a few days, the weather has been cold, sometimes reaching minus 30 degrees, and the taps and water tanks have completely frozen, and we have to get drinking water from far away areas with barrels. There is no water for taking a bath in most houses and hence, these services are of utmost importance.”
- Two months ago, the Taliban had shut down operations of women’s public baths in most Afghan cities and imposed restrictions on men’s baths and saunas.
- Mohammad Ibrahim said that during prayers, all the shops, including men’s baths and saunas in Herat, stay closed and everyone attends the daily prayers.
- The unprecedented cold in some provinces of the country has caused more than a hundred people to die and thousands of livestock have been lost so far.
Zoom out: At least 78 people have died in just over a week in Afghanistan amid inclement weather conditions as the war-ravaged country continues to grapple with a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis.
- With temperatures plummeting to as low as -34 degrees Celsius (-29.2 degrees Fahrenheit), people in the country are struggling to make ends meet. These public baths are a way to elevate some of the problems of Afghans, however, the Taliban seems intent on letting common people suffer more.
- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) had said that bitterly cold weather in Afghanistan has reportedly killed thousands of livestock across the eastern, western and northern regions.