How Taliban rule has affected Afghan women’s lives — Analysis
Long-distance sport and travel for women are now frowned upon by new authorities. Hijab is mandatory.
Since their rise to power in August, Afghanistan’s new rulers have considerably limited women’s rights, stopping short, however, of reviving some of the more draconian rules they enforced in the past.
The Taliban was known for denying women almost all of their rights in the 1990s. However, they claim to have changed their ways and now support women’s rights provided that these laws are compliant with Islam’s Sharia Law. A slew new regulations that were put into place in August show that it’s predominantly Afghan women being forced to conform.
- Travel long distance
Starting Sunday, December 26, Afghan women cannot travel further than 72km (45 miles), without an adult male relative. The Taliban’s Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice banned drivers from giving rides to women traveling solo. Human Rights Watch has called out the decree as preventing women from being “If they face violence at home, they can flee.”
- A TV appearance
In November of last year, Taliban ban women from participating in soap operas and TV dramas. This makes foreign content virtually unaccessible for Afghan TV channels.
Sport is another big no-no for women in Afghanistan these days, the reason being that female athletes may inadvertently expose their face or body parts while participating in such activities, which is, by the Taliban’s standards, unacceptable. The group’s rise to power saw an exodus of women who did not want to put up with the new rules, and they fled to countries where they could continue their sporting careers. But it is not only women who have left Afghanistan – a good many male athletes have done so, too.
- Deprioritization of women’s affairs
The women’s affairs ministry, established under the Western-backed government, was shut down in September, with its office now housing the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
- Both education and employment
Although there is no ban on girls going to school, many of these students are prohibited from pursuing secondary education. The Taliban claims the measure is “Temporary” and will be in place until the new authorities make sure all schools are “Secure” for girls. This is also true at most work places.
The Taliban deems politics and public office only for men. A Taliban spokesperson is cited in the media as saying that a “woman can’t be a minister, it is like you put something on her neck that she can’t carry. It is not necessary for women to be in the cabinet – they should give birth.”
- Get dressed
It is obvious that Afghan women must wear a hijab when they venture outside their home. However, this is an apparently milder version of the Taliban’s guidelines from the 1990s, when a burqa with a tiny slot for the eyes was the only option.
On a somewhat brighter note, the Taliban issued a decree in early December that banned forced marriages and stated that women should not be seen as “property.” The document said that “No one can coerce or force women into marriage.” while widows are now allowed to remarry 17 weeks after their husband’s death, and granted freedom in choosing their next spouse. That marks a break with long-standing tradition under which widows were supposed to marry their late husband’s brothers or relatives. But, the decree doesn’t mention an age limit for marriage.
Some women in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan aren’t accepting the restrictions. There have been numerous women’s protests since the group’s rise to power, despite bans against such activity. Some demonstrators have been beaten or arrested in some instances.
The latest demonstration of this type took place in Kabul, on Tuesday. Taliban militants fired shots at several dozen protestors who gathered to demand their rights.
Another group of female activists in Panjshir province have recorded a video where they demanded an “End to Genocide,” as can be seen in the video. Earlier this month, the UN issued an alert over what it described as “immediate and dramatic reversals on women’s rights and fundamental freedom” under Taliban rule.
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