OPINION: Women’s rights in the eyes of the Taliban

By Grace Ruiz

Many weeks have passed since the withdrawal of American forces and the Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan’s government. While the days pass and the shock of these events begins to fade in our minds, it’s important to understand the repercussions that these events have caused and will continue to cause for the people of Afghanistan now living under Taliban rule. It’s especially important to understand the backward step the country has taken in regards to the freedoms of Afghan women.

Over the past few weeks, the Taliban have spoken in very vague ways when dealing with the subject of allowing women to continue certain aspects of their lives such as pursuing jobs, careers, and even education. According to the Washington Post, the group has commented on this issue in a conference in Kabul by saying, “We assure that there will be no violence against women,” as well as, “No prejudice against women will be allowed, but the Islamic values are our framework.” This was all voiced by the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid. He continued by saying things that the Taliban would be accepting of such as free speech, women’s rights, as well as human rights as long as they are consistent with Islamic law. But their actions have proven to be quite contradictory to their words.

In just these recent weeks, women are already being told to stay home from their jobs and are even being fired. According to The Guardian, the Taliban only want women coming to work if their jobs can’t be replaced by male workers. And according to NPR, women are now being segregated from the men in their universities. Female students are being forced to follow dress code restrictions including the requirement of the hijab. Women are banned from things such as sports and publicly singing. Posters of women in public are being covered up or taken down. Women are being beaten during protests for equal rights. The Washington Post notes they have been thrown in prison and given long sentences just for protesting the enforcement of the hijab dress code, and it’s even been reported by NPR that another spokesman for the Taliban, Syed Zekrullah Hashmi, has stated that “It’s not necessary that women be in the Cabinet,” though it hasn’t been officially ruled that women aren’t allowed to run for government positions. A broader representation was promised, though Afghanistan is currently ruled by an all-male government.

Already the Taliban are drastically stripping women of what they were allowed just weeks earlier, while simultaneously continuing to say how they respect the rights of all people including women. A senior at BHS stated, “It’s been a spectacle to watch an entire government fall quite literally overnight. I’m scared for the women, especially the girls that will grow up and know no different. It’s also horrible to watch the women–who were thriving and creating their own lives–have to shrink to something much smaller. Is it possible that something this extreme could unfold in other places we’ve never imagined? How is it that we can be onlookers to such atrocities that we [The United States] have helped create? How can we watch the livelihood of these women be stripped from them? It’s worrying.”

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