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250 Afghan women judges who jailed militants fear for their lives as Taliban has freed prisoners

The lives of women judges in Afghanistan is threatened as militants punished by them have now been released by the Taliban (Pic Courtesy unama.unmissions.org)

As many as 250 women judges in Afghanistan fear their lives are in danger from militants they had sentenced to jail and who have now been freed with the Taliban coming to power.

While some women judges were able to flee in recent weeks, most were left behind and are still trying to get out, judges and activists working around the clock to help them escape told Reuters news agency.

The threat to their lives appears very real as two female Supreme Court justices were shot dead in January this year. 

Now, the Taliban have released prisoners across the country, which "really put the lives of women judges in danger," Reuters cited a senior Afghan women judge who fled to Europe as saying.

In Kabul, "four or five Taliban members came and asked people in my house: 'Where is this woman judge?' These were people who I had put in jail," she told Reuters in an interview, asking not to be identified.

She was among a small group of Afghan women judges to have made it out in recent weeks with the help of a collective of human rights volunteers and foreign colleagues at the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ).

She has been in touch with colleagues in Afghanistan who have told her that if they are not rescued they would be killed.

"The Taliban believe … women who work as a judge are infidels," earlier a former woman judge told CBC News in a conversation over WhatsApp.

In addition to the judges, there are around a thousand other women human rights defenders who could also be targeted.

British Justice Minister Robert Buckland said last week that the UK had   evacuated nine female judges and was working to provide safe passage for more of the very vulnerable people.

However, human rights and legal activists said Western countries did not make the evacuation of women judges and human rights defenders a priority as their focus was on evacuating their own nationals after the sudden collapse of Kabul.

Also read: Royal intervention saves an Afghan officer and his family from Taliban