Afghan Women Uncertain Of Their Rights As Taliban Closing In To Take Over Kabul
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, have overrun many of Afghanistan’s most prominent cities in recent days and are closing in on the capital Kabul. Reports state that under the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, women could not work, girls could not attend school, and women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to venture out of their homes. According to details, women who broke the rules sometimes suffered humiliation and public beatings by the Taliban’s religious police.
In recent years, many fruitless talks have happened over a political settlement in Afghanistan. The Taliban leaders even made assurances to the West that women would enjoy equal rights following what was granted by Islam, including the ability to work and be educated. However, the Afghan women tell a different story altogether.
The Heartbreaking stories of Afghan Women
Fighters from the Taliban insurgent groups walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in the southern city of Kandahar in early July and ordered nine women working there to leave. The gunmen escorted them to their homes and told them not to return to their jobs. Instead, they explained that male relatives could take their place.
Noor Khatera, a 43-year-old woman who had worked in the accounts department of the bank, said:
It’s really strange not to be allowed to get to work, but now this is what it is. I taught myself English and even learned how to operate a computer, but now I will have to look for a place to work with more women around.
Two days after the episode at Azizi Bank, a similar scene played out at a branch of another Afghan lender, Bank Milli, in the western city of Herat. Three Taliban fighters carrying guns entered the branch and admonished female employees for showing their faces in public.
Taliban Spokesperson denies Speaking on the Incidents
According to media outlets, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to a request for comment on the two incidents. On the broader question of whether women would be allowed to work in banks in areas it controls, Mujahid said:
No decision has been made yet. After establishing the Islamic system, it will be decided according to the law, and God willing, there will be no problems.
Western Powers fear the Taliban will overturn any progress made in Women’s Rights
During the 20 years that US-led forces were deployed in Afghanistan, women’s rights flourished for the better. Afghan women began working in fields including journalism, healthcare, and law enforcement.
However, the United States and other Western powers fear that the Taliban will roll back many of the freedoms won by women. An Afghan government spokesperson said:
The Taliban will regress freedom at all levels, and that is what we are fighting against. Women and children are suffering the most, and our forces are trying to save democracy. The world should understand and help us.
Afghan Women call for Help
Rada Akbar, an Afghan woman, took to Twitter and stated:
With every city collapsing, human bodies collapse, dreams collapse, history and future collapse, art and culture collapse, life and beauty collapse – our world collapses. Someone, please stop this.
Rada Akbar is not the only one. Scores of educated Afghan women are reaching out to the world via social media, appealing for help. Only time will tell whether someone replies to their plea or not.
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