In a year of Taliban rule, women are under more pressure than ever

The Taliban government recently caused outrage in Afghanistan when it announced that it would ban women and girls from going to parks and gyms, even if they were accompanied by male “guardians”.

The United Nations Special Representative for Women in Afghanistan, Alison Davidian, added that this is “another example of the Taliban’s continued and systematic exclusion of women from public life”, adding “We call on the Taliban to respect all their rights and… .. to restore women’s freedoms. Women and girls.”

Over the past 50 years, from the occupation by Soviet troops and US-led international forces until the Taliban takeover in August 2021, women’s rights have often been used for political purposes. and is seen as justifying war. Sometimes women’s situation improves, but their rights are often seriously violated.

Women’s rights were enshrined in the 2004 post-invasion constitution with the support of the United States. The constitution gives women 25% in parliamentary and regional assemblies, and 30% in government positions.

The constitution also commits the Afghan government to respect and implement international conventions on women’s rights. At the same time, the Ministry of Women will be established as the main body for the protection of women’s rights and empowerment.

This process was quickly halted when the Taliban took over. A month after coming to power, the Taliban government abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MWA) and replaced it with the Ministry of Ethics Promotion and Crime Prevention. Under the Taliban’s interim government, women were banned from doing work except cleaning women’s restrooms.

Women should not work until ‘appropriate systems’ are in place to ensure their safety,” the government told reporters. Women were unable to work, they were sent away or sent home and told that a male relative would take their place.

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Access to education for women and girls is also limited. After taking power, Taliban leaders declared the need for a “safe learning environment” so women and girls could return to school and study.

In September 2021, the government announced that secondary education for boys (from 6th grade onwards) would continue, but did not mention the inclusion of girls in school. Girls without access to education are more susceptible to child marriage and violence.

In May 2022, the Taliban ordered women to cover their faces in public and at home except in emergencies.

Women are forbidden to travel long distances without men.

Shelters for women and girls fleeing domestic violence are closing and staff is forced to return many survivors to their “abusers“. When she was nine months pregnant, Fariha told Amnesty International: “There used to be an emergency shelter… they said it didn’t work anymore… Now I have no choice.

Meanwhile, despite the Taliban’s objections, it is reported that the number of children and forced marriages has increased over the past year. Of these, suicides by women are on the rise.
fight against patriarchy

But Afghan women have been harassed, threatened, arrested, detained and tortured, making history for their brave acts and peaceful protests against the ban. Disarmed and regularly threatened with violence, Afghan women and girls are demanding empowerment and sharing their stories on news sites and online.

All of this comes at a time when many Muslim countries are seeing the rise of feminism. Especially young women are more interested in feminist ideas.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of Islamic feminism, which accepted Islam and its teachings as the sole central element in women’s lives and identities. But a new wave of young Afghan women are pursuing feminist ideas that are not necessarily religious.

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But the Taliban is not the only problem facing Afghan women. In fact, feminists in many Muslim countries face a dilemma. There is a patriarchal cultural structure that views women as subordinates to men. It’s also hard for them to fight for women’s rights in the face of a religious establishment that is madly opposed to the “fundamental” tenets of Islam. In turn, the Afghan religious authorities accused these feminists of being

Western, dishonest and sometimes even anti-national.

Sadly, it has always been hard for the Western world to see Afghan women as victims. This has become the standard attitude towards women in most traditional Muslim societies in the West, which still see the emancipation of women as a by-product of defeating mainstream Islam. considered to be closely linked to terrorism.

At the same time, Afghanistan’s isolation from the West – and economic sanctions that are crippling the country’s finances – are making life difficult for young Afghans and denying them opportunities. working in a developing economy. The world needs to listen to, understand and support the voices of Afghan women rather than accept Western feminism, which has proven unsuitable for the Muslim world.