Sunday, July 14, 2024

Taliban and Afghan women

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The victory of the Taliban in August 2021 not only proved to be a severe setback to democracy, but more so for the condition of women

“You educate a man, you educate an individual, you educate a woman, you educate a generation”, said Brigham Young. This is a somber reminder to the critical role that women have played across different societies over historical periods of time and how they have shaped the social, economic and political institutions of every society.

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Back to the medieval age

Moderniszation through the industrial and scientific revolution was not only meant to improve the economic condition of masses around the world but was meant largely to discard medieval era superstitions, beliefs and customs which are regarded as evil by today’s standards. It is meant to imbibe a sense of scientifically driven rationalism across the world. This is especially important in the field of rights and liberties.

The Taliban victory has given a severe setback to the country’s hard-won progress and development especially with regard to women’s rights and employment.

Women were denied proper education and were confined strictly to the domestic sphere of life. These were some of the conditions that women had to face, therefore undoubtedly women’s conditions in Afghanistan had relegated back to the medieval age.

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Education and unemployment- the least priorities of Taliban

The Taliban insurgent group’s top leaders are trained only in the religious sciences and arts with little or no exposure to basic modern subjects like Mathematics, grammar, literature and natural sciences. It is therefore expected that the regime will impose a concomitant requirement of strict adherence to religious texts and scriptures which however have largely failed to keep pace with the progress of time and space.

Those women who were employed in various sectors of the Afghan economy were told not to work anymore and stay at home. A full-fledged fatwa (religious command) was issued by the Taliban regime.

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Lack of basic liberties

“Man is free and everywhere in chains”, said the French political philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.

In December 2022, the Taliban issued a decree prohibiting Afghan women from working in NGOs, and had given a similar order a few days earlier banning women from studying in universities. The group has also shut down domestic violence shelters, detained and arrested female demonstrators, and restricted female access to public health which appears to be nothing but a travesty of basic human rights that any human born in this world is entitled to irrespective of their economic, social and institutional condition.

International reactions

Along expected lines, the international reaction was ubiquitous condemnation. The West were opprobrious at the Taliban regime’s ghastly treatment of women. Major Muslim countries with the exception of Pakistan condemned the Taliban regime. Saudi Arabia and UAE which had diplomatic ties with Taliban 1.0 condemned the decision to bar women from working and education.

India’s stance has been quite cautious on the Taliban, knowing well that the Taliban have historically colluded with Pakistan, India hasn’t given international recognition to the Taliban. But New Delhi hasn’t totally cut of presence in Afghanistan. India has been regularly sending humanitarian aid to the needy Afghan as Afghanistan’s economy is in dire straits.


The future of Afghan women is appearing to be bleak. While it is clear that women’s rights and agency under the Taliban regime has taken a backseat it is also clear that the ordinary Afghan woman of today will not be a mute spectator, she will not sit idle and let the chauvinist Taliban regime violate her rights, the Taliban may rule by the power of the gun, yet it is clear that resistance will continue even clandestinely.


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