Afghan women are protesting against Taliban diktat. One photo at a time
Afghan women across the world have started an online campaign to protest against the strict new dress code for female students imposed by the Taliban. They are posting photos of themselves wearing colourful traditional dresses on social media using hashtags like #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture. The campaign started by Dr Bahar Jalali, a former history professor at the American University in Afghanistan, has seen hundreds of women posting their photos as well as comments against the Taliban rules.
The Taliban have mandated the segregation of genders in classrooms and said women students, teachers and employees must wear hijabs. On Saturday, photos emerged of women students wearing head-to-toe black robes and waving Taliban flags in the lecture hall of a government-run university in Kabul.
Jalali said she started the campaign "to inform, educate, and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban". "No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan. This is utterly foreign and alien to Afghan culture. I posted my pic in the traditional Afghan dress to inform, educate, and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban," Jalali, a former faculty member of the American University of Afghanistan according to her LinkedIn profile, said.
"This is Afghan culture. I am wearing a traditional Afghan dress," Jalali tweeted a picture of herself in a green Afghan dress.
Other Afghan women responded by posting pictures of themselves in bright and colourful traditional Afghan dresses from across the country in stark contrast to the black hijab mandate by the Taliban. "I wear my traditional Afghan dress proudly. It's colourful and beautiful. Not at all like the images you saw circulating yesterday. Thank you @RoxanaBahar1 who's encouraging us #AfghanWomen to share the beauty of #AfghanistanCulture," Tahmina Aziz tweeted.
Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, head of the Afghan service at DW News, also posted a picture wearing atraditional Afghan dress and headdress. "This is Afghan culture and this is how Afghan women dress," she wrote. "Our cultural attire is not the dementor outfits the Taliban have women wearing," Peymana Assad, a local politician in the UK who is originally from Afghanistan, said.
The Taliban, who ruled over Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 when were forced from power after a US-led invasion, have subjected women to violence and forced them to forgo education. The Taliban have now claimed that they would not enforce their old diktats as they recaptured the country's capital last month. However, their new rules have activists and the world worried about the gains women made in the last 20 years.