In August, the Taliban established their rule in Afghanistan. With the Taliban in power, notable changes occurred quickly. These changes particularly hit women and girls. In just a few days, Afghan women were transported back in time. Decades of hard-won civil human rights for women were lost.
How it all began
In February 2020, a failed power-sharing agreement between the government and the Taliban spelled disaster for Afghanistan. There was the use of military strategy in seizing provinces until reaching Kabul. As a result, the president and other
government officials fled the country. In fear of Taliban rule, over 500,000 Afghans fled the country including a number of high-profile Afghan women. These include politicians, judges and lawyers.
What is happening now?
Since then, the Taliban has released hundreds of prisoners, declared an all-male cabinet, and renewed strict laws against women. Most female judges and politicians were evacuated or went into hiding. The Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice replaced the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry. Likewise, the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program is closed.
Adding to their misfortunes is the uncertainty on female education. Women and girls will stay home till further notice. Again, women can no longer go out in public or get medical treatment without a male relative present. It is abundantly clear that they have lost their freedom to move about freely.
Female athletes can no longer take part in sports. The belief is that participation in sports will corrupt the athletes. Sporting bodies such as FIFA helped in the evacuation of athletes while others went into hiding.
Taliban leaders vowed to respect women’s rights according to Islamic law. However, they have failed to stay true to their word. In a bid to voice out their displeasure and concerns, women held several protests. Force is used to break up these protests. Despite this advocacy, the restoration of women’s rights continues.
In October, a group of Afghan women went to the United Nations to appeal. The main aim of the appeal is to make sure the Taliban don’t get a seat in the body. They advocated for a representative that values women’s rights. Moreover, the UN Security Council met to discuss women, peace, and security in Afghanistan.
International Response to the crisis
Human Rights Watch accused the Taliban of widespread violations of human rights. Other human rights organizations have expressed concern about the unstable situation in Afghanistan.
The American Congress set up an Afghanistan Special Immigrant Visa program. The program seeks to protect Afghans who were working for or with the US government. Afghanaid and Turquoise Mountain have launched crisis funds. Similarly, the Baba Mazari Foundation in Australia is distributing emergency aid. AFG Diaspora Hub has created a directory of verified organizations that will help Afghans.
Right now, Afghan women’s prospects appear bleak. However, there is hope that the tide will eventually turn in their favor. Until then, courageous women and men will fight for that day. There is optimism that the international community will assist in ensuring their success.