Afghanistan: Taliban fire warning shots to break up women's protest

Thousands of women who served as lawyers, judges, soldiers and police officers are no longer at their posts. Most working women have been restricted to jobs in education or health care, serving fellow women

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, August 14, 2022, 12:10 PM IST
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Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan | AP

After seizing control last year, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's capital Kabul have dispersed dozens of female protesters, almost one year to the day the group stormed into power following a lightning assault on the city.

About 40 women marched through the Afghan capital demanding rights, before the Taliban broke it up by firing into the air.

The fighters seized their mobile phones, stopping one of the first women's protests in months.

The protesters chanted demands for "bread, work and freedom", carrying a banner reading "August 15 is a black day" - a reference to the day the Taliban captured Kabul in 2021.

Womens' Rights Severely Curtailed

After seizing control last year, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.

But many restrictions have already been imposed, especially on women, to comply with the movement’s austere vision of Islam.

Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.

Women have also been banned from travelling alone on long trips and can only visit public gardens and parks in the capital on days separate from men.

In May, the country’s supreme leader and chief of the Taliban, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered women to fully cover themselves in public, including their faces – ideally with a burqa.

Since the secondary school ban was announced in March, many secret schools for these girls have sprung up across several provinces.

The UN and rights groups have repeatedly condemned the Taliban government for imposing the restrictions on women.

These policies show a “pattern of absolute gender segregation and are aimed at making women invisible in the society”, Richard Bennett, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul during a visit in May.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch called on the Taliban to “reverse their horrifying and misogynistic” decision to bar women from education.

“This would send a message that the Taliban are willing to reconsider their most egregious actions,” Fereshta Abbasi, an Afghanistan researcher at the rights group, said in a statement.

(with inputs from agencies)

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