Written by Samaira Aima, a grade 11 student.
A recent report published by the United Nations warned that the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalizing large-scale, systematic gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.
The Taliban have imposed a series of restrictions that revoke the liberties which Afghan women have gained over the past two decades through struggle and activism.
Who are the Taliban?
The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist and militant Islamist political movement in Afghanistan. It is designated by some countries as a terrorist organization. The Taliban have recently taken over the government in Afghanistan – after the U.S. troops left the country.
In the last week of December 2021, the Taliban announced that women traveling long distances by road would be allowed to do so only if accompanied by a male relative. This directive is the latest curb on women’s rights since the Islamist group seized power in August 2021.
TV and media
Women were banned from appearing in TV shows and movies in November 2021 and female journalists and presenters were ordered to wear headscarves.
The Taliban continue to deny women the fundamental right to secondary and tertiary education, by keeping most secondary schools for teenage girls closed. Girls who should be in grades 7-12 are being denied access to school, based solely on their gender.
Women banned from working
Women have been barred from returning to their jobs. The Taliban believe that women should not be working alongside men.
Strict dress code and segregation
The Education Minister of the Taliban announced that gender segregation and Islamic dress codes would be mandatory in universities.
According to a UN Report, taken together, these policies constitute collective punishment of women and girls, grounded on gender-based bias and harmful practices. These policies have also affected women’s ability to work and make a living, pushing them deeper into poverty.
In January 2022, six women’s rights activists who participated in peaceful demonstrations calling for the rights of women to be respected by the Taliban went missing in Kabul. Their whereabouts are still unknown according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.
Experts at The United Nations Human Rights Office have expressed their concern for women human rights defenders, civil society activists and leaders, judges and prosecutors, security forces, former government employees, and journalists in Afghanistan. According to them, all these women are being exposed to harassment, threats of violence, and actual bodily harm, and their civic space has been severely eroded.
Domestic abuse shelters have been forcefully closed by the Taliban, leaving survivors without critical support and protection. According to Amnesty International, a number of survivors, as well as shelter staff, lawyers, judges, and government officials are now at risk of violence and death.