Layla speaks up for Afghanistan’s women and girls

Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran spoke up for women and girls in today’s debate, quoting a young Afghan woman who said “we just live to exist, nothing else.”

Daisy Cooper intervened to emphasise the point that the voices of Afghan women must be heard.

Layla also slammed the Government’s inadequate refugee plan, saying that it’s barely 7 people per constituency this year. The full text of her remarks is below:

The appalling scenes that we have witnessed over the last few days will certainly outlive us all, but equally moving are the accounts on the ground that I am sure we have all heard. The brother of my neighbour, Assad, is a Hazara, one of the most persecuted minority communities in Afghanistan. He has not left the house in weeks, not because of covid, but because of fear—already—of being killed, and he is one of millions. We must not be fooled. Despite what the Taliban say, they do not mean it. My good friend Nemat, an Afghan academic who is luckily now in Australia, said to me, “The Taliban are professional liars”. Behind their empty promises and their weasel words lies a devastating reality, and shame on us for believing them twice.

This Government must do all they can to ensure that people have an escape route. The airport in Kabul seems to be working, but what of those who cannot get there? What about those who cannot get to Kabul itself at all? That is why the Liberal Democrats have been calling for a safe corridor. We must utilise every diplomatic tool available. I note that in his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said that he had spoken to Prime Minister Khan. Did he raise this? We know that the Inter-Services Intelligence has been providing support for the Taliban for some time. We have leverage with Pakistan, and Pakistan has leverage with them. Was that even broached?

On the refugees that we are to take in, 20,000 sounds good, but we have had 20 years of involvement. If we take the 5,000 and break it down by constituency, that is seven per constituency. For 20,000, it is 30 per constituency. Surely we can do better than that? That should be a starting point, not a target. When they come, we need to recognise that councils need to be well funded in providing services such as housing, education, language provision, and mental health support—all that must be part of what is provided.

For my very final remarks, on women and girls, I hand my voice to a woman on the ground. She said:

“Like every other woman I have been staying home and am afraid to go out. Women are not allowed to leave their homes without a government official… Their safety, hopes, dreams have to be locked once again, we just live to exist, nothing else.”

Imagine what that must be like. Imagine the pictures of young girls being posted on social media as spoils of war, to be married off to the fighters.

Daisy Cooper
In times of crisis, the voices of women are often missing. Does my hon. Friend agree that whatever the UK Government and the international community do next, the protection of the rights of Afghan women and girls must be put front and centre?

Layla Moran
I thank my hon. Friend and agree with her wholeheartedly. As well as those who are facing imminent death, anyone whose life is put at risk—particularly if they have helped us in our aid projects, our military and our civil society efforts—must be protected.

Trump may have loaded this particular gun, and Biden may well have pulled the trigger, but our Prime Minister stood by and watched while they did it, powerless and weak. He is complicit by his impotence. This Government must live up to that failure, make good on their former promises, and allow all those who need refuge into our country.

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One Comment

  • But Kamala Harris arguably one of the most powerful women in the world remain mute on the subject. Might it be she doesn’t want to jepordise her future presidential campaign before it even starts?

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