Can the Taliban be trusted with women’s rights? What recent reports say

  • Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday asked the Afghan government women workers to stay at home until the security condition of the country improves.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that women would have rights to education, health and employment and that they would be “happy” within the framework of the Sharia.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that women would have rights to education, health and employment and that they would be “happy” within the framework of the Sharia.
Published on Aug 24, 2021 11:53 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

After the recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, one thing that has been most dreaded and drawn concerns is the status of women’s rights under their regime in the country. From not being allowed to go to school or work to not being allowed to leave the house without a male chaperon, women and girls were the biggest victims of the insurgents’ barbaric rule two decades before.

Although the militant group has announced an amnesty soon after regaining power in Afghanistan, and have said that women and girls will be allowed to have education and even work, they have been clear about their rights being within the ‘Islamic law’ without providing any further clarification.

Speaking at a press conference, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that women would have rights to education, health and employment and that they would be “happy” within the framework of the Sharia.

“Taliban are committed to providing women with their rights based on Islam. Women can work in the health sector and other sectors where they are needed. There will be no discrimination against women,” he added.

Despite assurances of rights to women and girls, several Afghan women journalists have said they have not been allowed to work by the insurgents. Shabnam Khan Dawran, an anchor at RTA (Radio Television Afghanistan), said she could not enter her office. “They told me that the regime has changed and you cannot work,” she was quoted as saying by Tolo News.

Another journalist namely Khadija echoed Dawran’s words. She told Tolo News that after a discussion with her company’s new director – appointed by the Taliban, she learnt that there was a change in the programmes. “They broadcast their desired programmes, there are no female presenters and female journalists,” she added.

Also Read | ‘Won’t relinquish our rights’: Afghan women protest, say haven’t been allowed to work by Taliban

A former judge from Afghanistan Najla Ayoubi told Sky News that she has been speaking to women in Afghanistan and has received instances of “bad behaviour and violence against women”. She added that one woman was set on fire after being accused of “bad cooking” for the Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan.

"They are forcing people to give them and cook them food and cook the food. Also, so many young women are being shipped into neighbouring countries in coffins to be used as sex slaves,” Ayoubi, who lives in the US after fleeing from the Taliban said.

In another incident of fear that has taken over Afghan women owing to the militants' arrival, the co-founder of Afghanistan’s lone all-girls boarding school has burnt all documents of her students in an attempt to save them and their families from the group.

Before recapturing Kabul more than a week before, Taliban fighters reportedly walked into a commercial bank branch in Kandahar in July and ordered nine women staffers to leave their jobs as they were deemed “inappropriate” and the positions were instead filled by male relatives.

A few days ago, when Reuters spoke to a group of four Afghan women students, who were evacuated to Qatar from Kabul, they said “everything has collapsed” in their homeland and they are “going back to darkness.”

“It's all the stories that we were hearing from our parents and our grandparents, and at that time it was a story, but now it's like the nightmare came true,” one of the women was quoted as saying by the news agency.

As per the latest developments, Mujahid on Tuesday asked Afghan government women workers to stay at home until the security condition of the country improves. He also warned the US and its allied forces to stop evacuating “skilled Afghans” and cautioned against extending the August 31 deadline of pulling out their troops from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has reportedly decided to stick to the deadline despite mounting pressure from allied forces to extend the same.

Also Read | After Taliban's ultimatum, Pentagon says no change in plan for Aug 31 withdrawal

In an interview with Sky News in Doha, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen refused to give additional time for the forces to pull out. “If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he was quoted as saying.

Nearly 16,000 people were flown out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport over the past 24 hours, the Pentagon said on Monday. US Military General Hank Taylor told reporters that of the total evacuees, a total of 11,000 were taken out by US military aircraft operations. He added that since July, as many as 42,000 people were flown out of war-torn Afghanistan – with 37,000 leaving since August 14 when the airlift operations commenced – a day before the Taliban recaptured Kabul.

(With inputs from agencies)

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