'Not afraid, we are united': With Taliban close to forming govt, Afghan women protest
As many as 50 Afghan women in Afghanistan's western city of Herat protested on the streets in a rare, defiant protest for the right to work and over the lack of female participation in the new government to be formed by the Taliban, according to a report. The Taliban have said they were close to forming a new government as early as Friday, days after the US troops pulled out of Afghanistan amid chaos as desperate Afghans tried to flee the country.
Basira Taheri, one of the organisers of the protest, told AFP she wanted the Taliban to include women in the new cabinet. "We want the Taliban to hold consultations with us. We don't see any women in their gatherings and meetings," Taheri said on Thursday.
"It is our right to have education, work and security. We are not afraid, we are united," the demonstrators said, according to an AFP journalist who witnessed the protest in the relatively cosmopolitan city, where girls have already returned to school.
Also watch | How Afghan women hit the streets in Herat, refuse to bow down meekly to Taliban
AFP reported citing two people familiar with the developments that the announcement of a cabinet may take place on Friday following afternoon prayers. All eyes are on whether the Taliban, who have pledged a softer brand of rule than during their brutal reign of 1996-2001, can keep their promise about women's participation and manage a war-torn economy.
Senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has told BBC Pashto in an interview that while women could continue working, there "may not" be a place for them in the cabinet of any future government or any other top post. He was a hardliner in the first Taliban administration.
Beheshta Arghand, the first female Afghan journalist to interview a Taliban official live on television and then escape the country fearing for her life, told AFP in Qatar that women in Afghanistan were "in a very bad situation". "I want to say to the international community -- please do anything (you can) for Afghan women," Arghand, the former anchor for the Tolo News media group, said.
During their first regime, the Taliban carried out brutal and violent interpretations of Islamic law and women were banned from school and work and denied freedom of movement. Any digression was handled with public floggings and even executions.