JK Rowling secretly donated money to save female lawyers and their families in Afghanistan

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JK Rowling magicked up hundreds of thousands of pounds to save more than a hundred female lawyers and their families facing murder in Afghanistan.

The Harry Potter author made her huge donation when Britain and America pulled out of Kabul at speed, leaving hundreds of women judges, prosecutors and defence counsel under threat from the Taliban.

Along with a million dollars from businessman and philanthropist Lord Michael Hintze, plus large sums from other prominent figures and smaller donations from the public, it meant a total of 508 Afghans could be flown to safety.

In a life-or-death cloak and dagger operation the female lawyers and their families had to hide in basements before they were smuggled to airports and flown to freedom.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling made her huge donation when Britain and America pulled out of Kabul at speed, leaving hundreds of women judges, prosecutors and defence counsel under threat from the Taliban 

Pictured: Women and children are made to crouch and wait outside the Taliban controlled check point near the Abbey Gate, before making their way towards the British military controlled entrance of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2021

Pictured: Women and children are made to crouch and wait outside the Taliban controlled check point near the Abbey Gate, before making their way towards the British military controlled entrance of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2021

The generosity of Miss Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban among other titles, in the 2021 rescue only emerged on Thursday in a House of Lords debate.

Lord David Alton told the chamber how the writer and Lord Hintze ‘in a Schindler’s list moment’ came forward to help when veteran human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy needed money to rescue female lawyers – mainly judges – and their families.

Lord Alton said that, thanks to ‘spontaneous, generous and very substantial’ private funding; ‘Some 500 people were evacuated – 103 were women lawyers, all of whom, with their children and husbands, were on Taliban kill lists.

‘I have met some of the women judges and know that the noble Lord’s intervention, and that of the author JK Rowling, undoubtedly saved many lives.’

Baroness Kennedy last night told the Daily Mail she had become close to lawyers in Afghanistan after helping introduce female judges to the country’s legal system when the Taliban were overthrown by America, Britain and their allies in 2001.

But when US President Joe Biden withdrew his forces from the troubled country in August 2021, and Britain followed, those female lawyers were facing assassination.

Baroness Kennedy (pictured) last night told the Daily Mail she had become close to lawyers in Afghanistan after helping introduce female judges to the country's legal system when the Taliban were overthrown by America, Britain and their allies in 2001

Baroness Kennedy (pictured) last night told the Daily Mail she had become close to lawyers in Afghanistan after helping introduce female judges to the country’s legal system when the Taliban were overthrown by America, Britain and their allies in 2001

Pictured: Mothers along with babies who suffer from malnutrition wait to receive help and check-up at a clinic that run by the World Food Programme in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 26, 2023

Pictured: Mothers along with babies who suffer from malnutrition wait to receive help and check-up at a clinic that run by the World Food Programme in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 26, 2023

Baroness Kennedy, a director of the Institute of Human Rights for the International Bar Assocation, said: ‘Two years ago exactly, two women judges in Kabul’s supreme court were assassinated – that really terrified all the women judges.

‘Then in the August of that year, when there was the military evacuation from Afghanistan, I started receiving desperate phone calls from women judges hiding in their basements.

‘Taliban had been released from prison and were making threats and coming after these women, some of whom had jailed them for domestic violence and other crimes.

‘It was clear these women were high on the list of those at risk of being killed, but only a handful got on to military planes.’

Baroness Kennedy soon discovered chartering a plane to fly out of Afghanistan would cost £650,000 a trip.

The 508 people she was ultimately able to help filled three flights, but also needed safe houses and clandestine transport to airports. They then had to be accommodated in Athens – chosen because its president had been a female judge – while they sought asylum worldwide.

It meant a total of £4million was needed.

The generosity of Miss Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban among other titles, in the 2021 rescue only emerged on Thursday in a House of Lords debate

The generosity of Miss Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban among other titles, in the 2021 rescue only emerged on Thursday in a House of Lords debate

Lord Hintze, a former Goldman Sachs hedge fund tycoon of Australian origin now based in Britain, stumped up £800,000 after Baroness Kennedy told him it was ‘a Schindler’s list moment’.

And Miss Rowling, fabulously wealthy thanks to the success of her books and the resulting films about boy wizard Harry Potter, fast responded to the desperate cries of female judges in Afghanistan.

Baroness Kennedy said: ‘JK Rowling just said ‘I want to help these women’.

‘She gave me hundreds of thousands of pounds, a very significant sum, to pay for hostel accommodation and people’s living expenses.’

Baroness Kennedy said of the 508 rescued, around 60 were now living in Britain.

Miss Rowling, 57, has in recent years come under attack for expressing concerns that women’s rights are threatened by trans rights.

In poverty-stricken Afghanistan, the Taliban has become increasingly hardline since 2021 and have banned women from working for aid agencies and barred girls from going to secondary school and university.

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