A List Of The Many Bans On Afghan Women Under Taliban Rule

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Every new week since the takeover has brought a string of Taliban bans for women in Afghanistan. The fundamentalist Islamist group, known for their tight imposition of sharia law, despite promises to preserve women’s rights in the country has begun pulling back on them in a significant way. Afghan women raising their voices against the crisis highlight the similarities of the currently volatile, deteriorating situation to the barbaric regime of the group in the 1990s.

United Nations officials Monday flagged the issue of encroachment on women’s rights under the Taliban, Reuters reported. A UN spokesperson, marking the breakout of protests in defence of “women’s right to work, to freedom of movement, to education and political participation,” said it was “crucial” at this point for the administration to listen to and respect the views of Afghan people. The humans rights body observed the Taliban was breaking its promises.

Strict Taliban Bans For Women In Afghanistan:

1. Sports 

Earlier this week, a spokesperson of the interim government was quoted saying Afghan women could no longer play sports since the profession would “expose” their bodies in the media. The ban also includes women’s cricket, local media said. More here. Reports of the prohibition have sparked an active response from the sporting community, with Cricket Australia leading the conversation. The cricket board said it would cancel the men’s test match with Afghanistan if women cannot play. The women’s soccer team and several other sporting figures left the country ahead of the ban.

2. Politics 

The Taliban’s stand on women’s participation in politics has been made amply clear by the institution of an all-male government that lacks female voices. A spokesperson for the group last week told Afghan channel TOLO News, “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,” adding under the US forces, there was “prostitution in offices.”

In a clip, taken from an old Vice documentary, that went massively viral last month, Taliban members are heard breaking out in laughter when a female interviewer questions them over the idea of women politicians.

Afghan political speaker Zarmina Kakar, who managed to escape to safety from her country, told SheThePeople last month, “Taliban occupation of Afghanistan feels very bad and worrying for Afghan women. We have sacrificed and fought for twenty years for human rights and women’s freedoms in this country.” Read here.

3. Public Work 

Admitting that their gunmen are “not trained” to co-exist with and respect women in public spaces, the Taliban have reportedly ordered for working women to stay in until such time that certain “procedures” to accommodate them are in place. In days prior to the takeover, reports from Kandahar and Herat suggested the Taliban were forcing women out of banking jobs, asking male relatives to replace them. Many notable television presenters and women journalists have fled the country in the wake of a compromise on their safety.

4. Protests 

Following the Taliban takeover, many Afghan women with indomitable courage took to the streets, prominently in the capital city of Kabul, to stage peaceful protests against the regime and in favour of their rights. Placards and slogans were raised, as was the Afghan flag, by women facing up to gunmen on the streets. Agitations led by women continued following the formation of the interim Taliban government, but protestors reportedly faced violence and tear gas attacks. The government has banned all protests unless permitted by them.

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Women lead resistance against Taliban takeover. Picture credit: TOI

5. Co-education 

Though, in contrast to their previous diktats on education, the Taliban have allowed girls and women to study, there are a number of tight curbs imposed on student freedoms. For instance, women on private co-education campuses are compulsorily required to wear the niqab (a cover shielding most of the face save the eyes) and full robe. Classes are divided by a curtain dropped to segregate male and female students sharing a room minimising cross-mingling. As per reports, women have been designated a waiting area where they are to stay until male students leave the building, following which they can too.

In other areas of Afghanistan, co-education has been completely banned, with Taliban members calling it the “root of all evil.” Here’s what Afghan educator Pashtana Durrani told us about what the teaching community is fearing and demanding.

6. Music and Entertainment

During their previous rule between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban had notoriously and widely curbed art and entertainment across Afghanistan upon the claim that it was against Islam. In what Afghans are calling a return to the dark days, music has fallen silent in the country once more. Mega pop star Aryana Sayeed, in an interview with SheThePeoplerelated how she fled her country braving bullets and violence, amid concerns over safety and the fate of her industry.

In Kabul, the faces of female models on streets hoardings and posters outside beauty parlours were blackened while visuals also showed vandalism of instruments in the city’s National Music Institute following the takeover. The future of women artists, especially street artists taking on patriarchy, is also bleak.

7. Free Movement 

Greatly limiting women’s mobility, the Taliban have ordered they cannot move on the streets without a male escort (mahram: a family member). Women are questioning how to contextualise the public activity of divorced or widowed women from whose lives male figures may be absent. This, compounded by the multiple other rules restricting their movement in public spaces, has led to the gradual disappearance of women from streets in many places. In cities like Kabul, defiant women braving guns and whips continued to rightfully occupy space on the roads agitating for their rights, until the protest ban was imposed.

8. Sartorial Choices

Certain reports surfaced in recent weeks mention street executions and lashings of women allegedly over

Image: Reuters 

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