The former Ashraf Ghani government fell like a house of cards allowing the Taliban to take over Afghanistan with ease. With the Taliban regime has come rigid and orthodox rules, which affect women the most. There were reports of harassment and brutalities against women from across the country when the Taliban made rapid advances while fighting the Afghanistan security forces. And now the newly-formed Taliban government has come up with policies that suppress women’s rights and has left no space for women representation. All this go against the earlier promises made by the Taliban before capturing Kabul that it would respect women’s rights and allow them to access education and work. This has made women furious, leading them to start a fight with the Taliban to protect their rights.
Protesting women have also extended their support to the Panjashir rebels, who are fighting the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, as well as expressed hatred for neighbouring Pakistan, which they believed facilitated the return of the Taliban. While the Taliban administration has officially allowed peaceful agitations, its fighters on the ground however have resorted to violence to curb protests. They are beating women protestors as well as media personnel who are covering the agitations. Taliban fighters used whips to beat the protestors. “They [the Taliban] hit with whips and they tell us to go to our homes and recognise and accept the Emirate,” said one of the woman protestors. Videos of the Talibani fighters beating women protestors with whips went viral on social media, leading people to claim that the Taliban 2.0 was as barbaric as 1.0.
Defying the orders and challenging the ultra-radical and brutal Taliban is a bold step by the Afghan women. They have the reforms and rebuilding of 20 years, which helped them grow and enjoy the basic rights, at the risk. Soon after the Taliban was evicted by the US, Afghanistan saw a phenomenal surge in school enrolment by boys as well as girls. Now, the sudden and abrupt restriction of education cannot be accepted by women in Afghanistan as it makes growth opportunities bleak and the future hopeless. “We don’t care if they beat us or even shoot us, we want to defend our rights. We will continue our protests even if we get killed,” said a woman protester from western Kabul’s Karte Char neighbourhood. Even the journalists covering the protests are facing the wrath of Talibani fighters on the streets. They are being beaten, detained, or their equipment are being snatched or broken.
The new decrees from the Taliban are now imposing restrictions on what women students wear and who gives tuitions to them. Women are advised to stay at home, which means they will not be able to work or participate in governance. Moreover, they now will not be allowed to play cricket or any other sport due to exposure to body parts. Now, Australia has come in support of Afghanistan women cricketers and has threatened to stop playing with the male cricket team of Afghanistan. However, in such a case, the Taliban will not be much concerned since for them sport is “not necessary”. So it will be the defeat of women rights as well as liberal and democratic values.
There has been “incredible fear” among Afghan women due to obscure positions taken by the Taliban, said Alison Davidian, deputy head of UN Women in Afghanistan. “And this fear is palpable across the country. Memories are vivid of the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, when there were severe restrictions on women’s rights, and women and girls are understandably afraid,” she said. Taliban has vowed to use Sharia laws while dealing with issues concerning women. This may mean women are banned from going to schools and forced to cover their faces when they step outside their homes.