What rules will the Taliban impose on women in Afghanistan?

Women were forced to wear the burqa and girls could not attend school under previous Taliban rule

Rory Sullivan
Monday 16 August 2021 16:43 BST
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Afghan women have spoken of their fears of living under the Taliban, the militant group that took full control of the country by seizing the capital Kabul on Sunday.

Many have memories of life during the repressive Taliban regime of the 1990s and early 2000s, when girls were prevented from going to school, and women were forced to wear the burqa and were not allowed out in public without a male guardian.

Some have even greater concerns than the curbing of personal freedoms. Zarifa Ghafari, 27, the country’s first female mayor, told the i newspaper last week that she would likely be killed by the extremist group.

”I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There’s no one to help me or my family; they’ll come for people like me and kill me,” she said.

Her words come after a spate of assassinations against women in high-profile public office in the last year, killings blamed on the Taliban.

After assuming power in Afghanistan once again, the Taliban have sought to quell public fear, telling the BBC they will respect women’s rights by allowing them to “have access to education and work, to wear the hijab”.

Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen added that “no one should leave the country...we need all the talents and capacity, we need all of us to stay in the country and participate”.

However, these words appear at odds with their actions. Families displaced to Kabul from the northern Takhar told the Associated Press news agency that the Taliban lashed some women there for wearing “revealing sandals”, while it has been reported that the group sent women home from work and university in other areas last week.

​​“We watch in complete shock as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates,” the Nobel-Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai said on Sunday, voicing widely-held concerns.

Meanwhile, UN general secretary Antonio Guterres called on the international community to unite to protect “women and girls, who fear a return to the darkest days”.

“I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he said on Monday.

As well as its abuses against women, previous Taliban rule saw severe punishments meted out on offenders, including amputations, executions and stonings.

Mr Shaheen did not rule out the possibility that these events could become routine again. “That is up to the religious followers and the courts. They will decide about the punishment,” he said.

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