Marzia Babakarkhail

Prominent advocate for Afghan female judges, survivor of 2 assassination attempts by Taliban

Region(s): Global
Country of focus: Afghanistan


Current Occupation: Prominent advocate for Afghan female judges, survivor of 2 assassination attempts by Taliban
Language: Dari, English


‘Without reason, I cry. I can’t sleep’: The Afghan judges trapped in hiding, fearing reprisal from the Taliban The Independent UK Apr 7, 2024

‘Afghanistan has fallen off the agenda and been put on hold’  In Conversation The Times UK Mar 7, 2024

Former female judge in Afghanistan still in hiding over two years later: “Our family lives deteriorate with each day that passes” Orato First-Person News Nov 12, 2023

Afghan Women Judges Still Trapped in the Country Desperately Need Sanctuary Oped PassBlue Jun 13, 2023

Afghan women judges urge world to help after Taliban death threats Context May 3, 2023

Files from Exile: Qazi (Judge) Marzia Babakarkhail on Women and Justice in Afghanistan Manara Magazine Apr 27, 2023

Female judges in Afghanistan seek resettlement Australia Broadcasting Corp ABC Mar 29, 2023

The campaigner helping female judges flee Afghanistan Australian Broadcasting Corp Mar 28, 2023

‘I am scared of my shadow’: Afghan judge living in fear of Taliban denied sanctuary in Britain Independent Mar 21, 2023

She put Taliban members behind bars for their crimes. Now she’s in fear for her life – and the UK won’t help Independent Feb 25, 2023

Why are lawyers in Afghanistan in danger? The Law Society of England and Wales Seminar Feb 1, 2023

Trapped in Afghanistan, female judges plead for international support as Taliban kills one Firstpost Jan 25,2023

A murder in Afghanistan highlights the misery of women The Economist Jan 19, 2023

They came for the judges This is Criminal Podcast Jan 6, 2023

Female judge remains trapped in Afghanistan, pleads for international support Orato Aug 15, 2022

Afghan judge, activist survives Taliban assassination attempts to run for office in UK Orato Apr 13, 2022


Marzia Babakarkhail (@marziababakarkh) was a family law judge in Afghanistan in the 90s. Now in the UK she campaigns for evacuation and resettlement of female Afghan judges  and their families trapped in Afghanistan or stuck in transit in Pakistan since fleeing the Taliban return to power in August, 2021.

When the Taliban returned during the withdrawal of US troops after two decades, there were just over 200 female judges in Afghanistan. The Taliban stripped all women from judgeships in Afghanistan, halted their salaries and froze their accounts. Threats against them increased after the Taliban’s mass prisoner release. As of Spring, 2023, Marzia says there are about 50  judges left in Afghanistan and 20 in Pakistan. She campaigns for assistance to get them to other countries and is attempting to find organizations that will support them meantime.

Mariza secured 56,411 signatures on a petition in solidarity with female judges and their families in hiding in Afghanistan, living with daily death threats and in constant fear of violent reprisals.

Mariza served as a family law judge in Polkhomri Baghlan Provincial Court in Afghanistan for eight years, escaping to Pakistan in 1997 after Taliban targeted her and endangered her family because of her work in the justice system and her social activism. She had established the Afghan Women Social and Cultural Organization to help abused women. In Pakistan she opened and ran  a school for Afghan children with the help of family, friends and donors.

She returned to Afghanistan in 2001 after the Taliban regime was defeated but fled to the UK in 2008 after another attempt on her life while visiting family in Pakistan.  Marzia learned to speak English and has worked with Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, as an immigration caseworker since gaining her UK citizenship in 2016.