Saturday, June 22, 2024

Afghan Women Under the Taliban 

With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, hopelessness befell on women of the country. A country that had released itself 20 years ago from its clutching vices of inequality, insensitivity, and conservative fundamentalism has again fallen into the hands of the same people. Afghans had tasted and felt the idea of freedom and liberation, even if for just two decades. History has proved that the Afghans were always fighters, and losing a battle has never been an option. However, the surrender of the Afghan forces and institutions has brought a particular leadership gap and uncertainties. 

Simultaneously, we have urged and tried to enlighten our women of their rights, the same rights of equality and freedom which all over the world were not just guaranteed to their women but were implied in all pursuits of life. Thus, although the idea of women’s liberation will have setbacks, the brunt will be borne by the very same women who were courageous enough to come out of the clutches of misogyny and inequality.

There is fear and desperation among all the progressionist and pioneering women. One of the instances where I would like to quote a former Afghan MP whose life was under threat and so was informed of her name on the list of British evacuation but could not contact any British officials to find out how to get on the plane until she had lost hope. 

Women are asking for humanitarian visas but are unable to get help. Many are even financially incapable of supporting their life themselves. Working women and girls in higher education are much more scared for their lives. When everything started to settle, they were soon targets of the Taliban. 

These women were compelled to conceal and sacrifice their joyful lives to survive while the Taliban took over administration completely. 

Books, which for some women were a guarantee to an excellent job while participating in the country’s future, have been taken away. All these years, women and girls made their dreams come true, but now they will only be permitted to attend university if classes are split by gender or at least by a curtain. Women must wear an abaya, robe, and niqab to cover the entire body and face except for a slit for the eyes.

The absence of women from public spaces has become a defining feature with the advent of Taliban rule. Loss of jobs, freedom, friends, and breath of fresh air has been curtailed in just one stroke. Our predictions about women and young girls being abducted and raped are coming to be accurate. 

Women Continue to Fight 

The tyranny women of Afghanistan have gone through to establish a world of equality-focused Afghanistan can never be taken away from them. Nothing, no terror instilling forces, no conservative globally declared wanted terrorists, or no uncouth young recruited personnel sway the determination to uphold their rights and voices in forcibly and undemocratically taken over the nation. 

Afghan women came together to create momentum to show their unity and integrity. On August 15th, the Taliban took over, and on August 17th, Raazia Barakzai and a few of her friends were standing in front of ARG, the Presidential Palace, asking for equal rights. Since then, the young generation of Afghanistan has stood up to the tyranny of the Taliban by protesting and raising their voices. Many of these girls were jailed, tortured, and even raped by the Taliban. 

But these women refused to leave the scene. 

The “Don’t touch my clothes” hashtag is also one of the momentums launched by Afghan American historian Bahar Jalali. The idea behind it was the legacy and culture should not be distorted by the clothing worn by those women in Kabul because the world would assume that was typical Afghan apparel. Women used to wear flowing chiffon scarves to hide their hair. They used to wear colorful dresses which had been showcased to the world through social media. It later became a trending hashtag on social media, followed by all influential and vocal women. 

The other trending hashtag was #AfghanistanCulture, which quickly gained traction, with women posting images of themselves smiling for the camera while dressed in bright, embroidered Afghan clothes. 

In the past, Afghan women have achieved a lot with the appropriate approach. Afghan women had formed a network of feminist volunteers from various socioeconomic groups. Feminists of all stripes had banded together to effect change, whether radicals, liberals, Muslims, or atheists. 

Our message to the world and feminist organizations is to support Afghan women. And to the Afghan women abroad, we would like to say, let’s unite and be dauntless to fight this battle of liberation so that our young who had not seen this struggle or the generations to come can excel and live a prosperous life. 

Author profile
Habiba A. Marhoon

Habiba is the Founder and President of “The Liberty Coalition” a US-based NGO.

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