Journalist and filmmaker Ravita Navai is behind “Afghanistan Undercover,” which is scheduled to air Tuesday. She began her research for the documentary back in 2020.
“I wanted to make a documentary almost as a warning: ‘Listen, everybody, this is what’s happening,’” Navai told NPR.
When the United States began withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2021, and Taliban representatives came forward to assure the global community of their commitment to protecting women’s rights, Navai knew their words were nothing but empty promises.
“”[The Taliban] knew that the world was watching,” Navai said, referring to a press conference that August during which spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vowed to protect the freedom of women under Islamic law. “[They knew] that women’s rights for the world is a litmus test of their governance and how they approach human rights.”
Navai filmed the documentary just outside of Kabul, accompanying female activists on dangerous missions, speaking with lawyers practicing their trade in secret and visiting young women imprisoned by the Taliban without trial for “moral crimes.”
Since seizing power, the Taliban has forbidden schooling past the sixth grade for women and mandated head-to-toe coverings in most public settings. Suicide rates have soared, particularly among women in abusive marriages as the Taliban increasingly finds brides for its men by abducting women and forcing them to marry.
“Just say to the whole world, they don’t let us talk,” a young girl secretly imprisoned under the Taliban’s rule told Navai.
As the world’s attention shifted to Ukraine this year, the situation for women in Afghanistan grew even more dire as the regime was released from the weight of global scrutiny, Navai siad. But despite the risk of injury and death, women continue to fight back in “Afghanistan Undercover.”
“This is the road I have chosen,” Navai heard from a protester. “I have three younger sisters. If I don’t raise my voice for them, they too will be broken.”