JK Rowling secretly donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to rescue female lawyers from the Taliban

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

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

It has been revealed that world-renowned author and philanthropist JK Rowling donated hundreds of thousands of British pounds to rescue over 100 female lawyers and their families who were facing possible execution in Afghanistan.

According to the Daily Mail, Rowling made the donation after Britain and the US withdrew from Kabul, leaving hundreds of female judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel at risk of execution by the Taliban.

With the help of fellow philanthropist Lord Michael Hintze, who contributed nearly one million British pounds, as well as large sums from other prominent donors and smaller sums from the public, a total of 508 at-risk Afghans were flown out of the country to safety.

Rowling is known for her generosity, and in fact dropped off the Forbes Billionaire List after donating vast sums of her wealth to various charities. 

"You have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently," she once said.

This particular act of kindness only came to light during a House of Lords debate Thursday when Lord Alton spoke of the "Schindler’s List moment" when the beloved children’s author and Lord Hintze answered a call for help from human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy for urgent funds to save the female legal professionals, most of whom were judges, and their families.

Lord Alton told the chamber that due to the "spontaneous, generous, and very substantial" donations, "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."

"Two years ago exactly, two women judges in Kabul's supreme court were assassinated - that really terrified all the women judges," Baroness Kennedy, director of the Institute of Human Rights for the International Bar Association, told the Daily Mail.

"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," she went on. "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 onto military planes."

The cost of chartering planes to fly the remaining women out of Afghanistan was discovered to be enormous, with each trip costing $800,000. 

The total cost of saving the 508 people from the Taliban was almost $5 million. This included three chartered planes plus a network of safe houses and accommodation in Athens while they sought asylum.

"JK Rowling just said ‘I want to help these women’," Baroness Kennedy told the Daily Mail. "She gave me hundreds of thousands of pounds, a very significant sum, to pay for hostel accommodation and people’s living expenses."

Rowling’s philanthropic endeavors primarily focus on helping women and girls around the world. Her charitable trust Volant aids women and children and seeks to combat poverty and social inequality. Then there’s the children’s charity Lumos, an organization that aims to "end the systematic institutionalization of children across Europe and help them find safer, more caring places to live."

Most recently, Rowling was accused of transphobia for opening a female-only rape crisis service in Scotland. Rowling said she made the decision to do so after the trans-identified male head of the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre made comments in a podcast that "bigoted" rape survivors requesting female-only services would be challenged on their prejudices and asked to reframe their trauma.


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