Impact of the Taliban rule on Afghan women 

The Taliban have hurled back into power, and the Afghans are not alone in having to face this brutal reality. The Taliban, which means “students” in the Pashto language surfaced in 1994, around the city of Kandahar. Seventeen years later, the country is still in mayhem as the Taliban have taken over almost 60 percent of the country, the most territory it has controlled since the year 2001.

During its five years in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed the Sharia law, also known as the Islamic law. Women were prohibited from working or studying and were constricted to their homes. They could only step out if they were accompanied by male guardians. Around twenty years back, the Taliban had enforced an uncompromising version of the Sharia law which entailed banning women from education and employment. They viciously shrunk the women down to poverty and deprived them of basic human rights. Women’s rights in Afghanistan have moderately improved since the Taliban rule came to an end in 2001. Now that the Taliban is back in power, how is it impacting  Afghan women? 

Taliban officials are trying to reassure women that things will be different this time. In a news conference held in Kabul, a Taliban spokesperson said that women will be permitted to work and study. Another Taliban official was of the opinion that women should participate in the government as well. An exceptional scene of a Taliban official being interviewed by a female journalist was a part of a campaign by the Taliban to present a more modern face to the rest of the world and subdue the fear against them. That being said, a contrasting story could be seen hours later when a prominent anchorwoman along with others was suspended indefinitely by the Taliban. Disturbing stories on how an Afghan policewoman was shot dead by the Taliban recently makes us question the Taliban’s morals and true motives. Women in Afghanistan are panic-stricken. Their livelihood, safety and future are all threatened. 

Despite this, or perhaps because of this, some women are fighting back. In the city of Herat, which seems to be the most progressive one, Afghan women gathered on the streets demanding more rights and involvement in the future government on 2nd September 2021.

There have been small, women-led protests all over the country, including in the capital city of Kabul, giving a glimpse at just how distraught they are. Moreover, five members of the much appreciated all-girls Afghan robotics team who made headlines as a representation of a more progressive Afghanistan have fled the country subsequent to the Taliban seizing control. As of now, the Taliban have only asked the female healthcare workers to return to work. Hundreds of female Afghan journalists have been barred from working. An Afghan journalist claimed that the Taliban are the same as they were twenty years ago, only more violent. 

The plight of the women of Afghanistan is too horrid to imagine. One cannot imagine a life where their freedom, dignity, equality, respect are precluded. Their fight for justice has been going on for more than 20 years and yet they stand defeated. 

The impact of the Taliban on Afghan women has caused them to flee from their own nation, in search of a better life. Young Afghan girls have been subjected to appalling conditions, taking away their childhood. Of all the years we have lived, the hopeful ones matter the most. The only thing for the Afghan women to do is stay hopeful and fight back, never giving up.

                                                                                                                                               Mrunmayee Joshi 

            BSc Economics ( FY B.Sc.)

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