Hard restrictions and limitations imposed by the Taliban on women and girls have caused numerous troubles among Afghan girls. Unfortunately, this has extremely paved the way for “selling and forced, underage marriages of girls” after that the Taliban deprived Afghan women and girls of their basic rights in Afghanistan. In its recent conversation with girls who had to compulsorily accept the challenge of getting married underage after they were deprived of perusing education, Hasht-e-Sobh has found that the deprivation of women has increased family violence, selling and making the girls get forcibly married while being underage in Afghan society. In the meantime, old men and some of the Taliban authorities are trying to abuse the destitution of families and get married to their virgin, underage daughters.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on 15, August 2021, Afghan girls have not been able to attend secondary and high schools, and women have been deprived of working and social presence all over the country. Over the past year and a half, the Taliban have issued a series of misogynistic orders that are considered “gender apartheid” by human rights activists.
Meanwhile, talking to Hasht-e-Sobh, some of the Afghan women agreed that discriminatory policies applied by the Taliban will annihilate women’s social life in Afghanistan and have paved the ground for family violence, misogyny, objectiveness, and forced marriages for women in the country. In their conversation with Hasht-e-Sobh, the women and girls continued that the deprivation of women from work and education has also caused a lack of support for their daughters inside families living under the rule of the Taliban. According to those women, the primary cause of problems like these steam from women’s joblessness and unknown future; because they cannot step out of their houses and go to work, Afghan women are abused in dissimilar ways.
Hamta (a pseudonym) is one of the dozens of women whose family forced her to get married and received five hundred thousand (500.000) Afghanis instead after that Taliban applied restricted rules on women in Afghanistan. According to Hamta, she was raised by violence and violence has forced her to sleep on one bed beside the man she is supposed to get married to for once and all. “I was born in a male-dominated family. My family were scared of having a female child and looked upon girls from an ashamed point of view”, she said. Hamta, who once attempted suicide, has just found out that she has been married. She has a bitter, painful story about her life.
Born and raised with violence, Hamta has never given up on dreaming and nothing has made her think of death like deprivation from education and work did. Once upon a time, she wanted to be “a physician or programmer”, but now that it has been some days since her marriage, she said: “I have no hope left to live. All my hopes are buried now. I wanted to be a physician or programmer, but I couldn’t. Now, I am the wife of someone who bought me for five hundred thousand Afghanis and wants me to give birth to his child and become a housewife. I am so angry today because I have become the wife of someone who has bought me. I have no permission to work, I have given up all on perusing my education. from now on, all I hope is to be a mother and child-raiser. I’ve got no hope. I can’t even cry. There is no place for me to explain my pain. I am one of the obvious examples of 20 million girls deprived of education and work and are supposed to get married to someone I did not want”.
This woman, who is still shocked by her forced marriage, has another huge pain that she is suffering. Hamta said: “There is another pain much bigger than mine: my little sister got married underage. She is not yet 18 years old. My father is forcing her to get married soon. Father says that he can’t support his daughter when there is no work or education.” Hamta also added that if the Taliban did not deprive girls of education and work, her father would never have sold her daughters for cash money; Hamta herself could have financially supported herself and her father.
Hemta has a bitter and painful memory of his life. In addition to being looked down upon because she is a girl, she has also suffered from her mother’s cancer disease. From then on, she started weaving carpets in the second grade of school. Growing up, she started to teach in schools and courses during the day so that she could treat his mother’s suffering. This victimized woman of forced marriage added: “I went to university before noon; later, I taught for two hours in a private institution; after dinner and at night shift, I worked as a receptionist in one of the hospitals. Hence, all I could earn was 10,000 per month. That way, I was able to cover the household expenses and pay the rent. I wanted to become a programmer, but, when the Taliban announced that women should not work or go to university, the boy to whom my father owed money came one night and said that we were getting married. That night, I took the nerve pills that the doctor had given my mother because there was no other way. I ate two pills and wished to die, but I couldn’t. They saved my life in the hospital”. Taking a long, bitter breath, she added: “If the Taliban had not come to power, my father would never have been unemployed; If the Taliban were not here, now I could study, go to university, get a good job, earn five hundred thousand Afghanis on my own and would not get married to someone I did not know and did not want; I could have married a young man I loved. Unfortunately, all my dreams turned into dust”.
Shamsia (a pseudonym) is a 17-year-old girl. She has recently come from Ghazani province to Kabul. Talking to Hasht-e-Sobh, she said: “I had just studied one week of the preparation-for-the-entrance-exam course, but all the institutions were closed. This year, when I saw other girls taking entrance exams for governmental universities, I was sparked with the hope that I would take a part too, which was the only reason I came to Kabul for. I had no money, but throughout the year, I did hand embroidery and collected my earnings. Overall, I had five thousand Afghanis. So, I came to Kabul.”
Shamsia’s fascination with studies depicts how she could keenly come to Kabul with the little money in her pocket. In order to save money for her course expenses and not pay rent, she went to one of her relative’s homes. The 17-year-old Shamsieh said: “Out of five thousand, I paid three and a half thousand for course fees, and the rest is left with me. The course is closed now, and still I haven’t gone home. My father called and said that since the course is closed, I could no longer stay or study. Shamsia’s father had also said that someone with a marriage proposal had come to her parent’s house. “I don’t know him, but I heard that he is an old man of forty years old, or so.”, Shamsia’s father had suggested.
Shamsia added that she was caught between leaving and staying in Kabul because she did not have any excuse to stay in Kabul anymore; there was no hope left. Shamsia is legally a teenager and living in the danger and nightmare of the Taliban. According to her, the man chosen for her to get married to might has an extra wife since he is an old, mature man.
“My father says: you can’t study; you have to get married. He has called me several times to go. I am waiting to complete the course. I don’t want to get married; I want to study, but it seems like there is no way. I don’t want to marry that man. I want to study, what should I do? There is no way out. My mother also tells the same story as my father: since girls are not allowed to go out and study, why should she stay at home then? My life is ruined. If they force me to get married, there will be no one to hear my innocent voice. We (girls) are unfortunate. I hope this bitter and terrible event will never happen in my life so that I will be able to study again,” Shamsie added.
Samira (a pseudonym) is one of the girls who, after the girls’ schools were closed by the Taliban, was proposed to by one of the Taliban commanders. After not letting her family know about it, she said: “When my parents realized, they told the Taliban that I was engaged. So, the Taliban commander responded that they knew that I was not engaged and should get married to him in order to be blessed in this world as well as in the next one. Later, my parents got me engaged to one of our relatives and took a promise from my fiancé that he would let me continue my education. Unfortunately, now that I see that there is no other possibility, getting rid of that Taliban commander has thrown me into the clutches of a man that I never expected in my whole life.”
Meanwhile, condemning the restrictions on women in Afghanistan, human rights activists accuse the Taliban of violating the fundamental rights of Afghan citizens. Interviewing with Hasht-e-Sobh, Naeem Nazari, head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said: “Unfortunately, the illegitimate power of the Taliban and the dominance of their narrow policies and perspectives have let the doors of schools, colleges, and universities be closed to the girls; their narrowed views have limited job opportunities, which itself It has reduced the hope for a bright future for Afghan women.” The head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission also believed that the misogynistic treatment of women by the Taliban has “distracted the relations between Afghanistan and the world, put the country into increasing poverty, and provided the way for forced underage marriages, as well as the sale of girls. The voices of the deprived people of the country are not heard, and the world is busy watching and playing politics. This is called the height of crisis and misery!”.
In her interview with Hasht-e-Sobh, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Austria, Manija Bakhtari, said: “Human beings, especially women, are always valued in every society; and the criteria for these values are mostly educational, financial, political and cultural status, also physical beauty. In many societies, women with a lack of access to educational and financial resources are valued based on their beauty and physical appearance. They are viewed as precious objects that are easily exchanged like a commodity and in social interactions. On the other hand, losing their educational and economic status, women become second-class human beings, objects, and property, and lose the right to determine their destiny. Knowledge and financial resources are the fundamental factors of power, and a person who is deprived of these two will surely be marginalized”.
Manizha Bakhtari also emphasized: “After the Taliban’s return to power, Afghan women have lost all their rights, stayed at home, and lost their income and social status. Also, laws, institutions, and structures assisting women’s education and work are completely closed down. Not only the Taliban but many others having the same mindset as the Taliban do not support women’s resistance and protest; they prefer women to be bound with the traditional role of being housewives and be completely uninvolved in (Afghanistan’s) society, politics and culture”.
Mrs. Bakhtari added: “Afghanistan is a traditional country and marriage is considered one of the basic pillars of life in its social relations and interactions. An old saying that reflects the real spirit of society is that “the girl belongs to the people”. In other words, the collective wisdom of society does not reflect women’s work in society, which is why it values her more as a mother. In Afghanistan’s traditional and tribal relationships, abuse of girls, buying and selling, and early, unequal marriages have a long history, and the Taliban carry the double burden of shame on the shoulders of the country’s bloody and criminal history. Now, in an atmosphere where there is no hope, women have become objects for selling and buying in the majority of families. When the majority of families see that their daughters can no longer go to schools, or universities, and will have no income in the future to determine their value, it is easier for the families to accept marriage proposals. Poor families consider marriage as a sale of their daughters and an economic resource. Little boys and girls are sold as objects, which is why forced underage marriages and sexual exploitation of girls are on the rise now”.
Afghan ambassador to Austria also added: “If this situation continues, millions of other girls will become victims of sexual exploitation by men and will serve them as second, third, fourth wives and slaves. Fundamentally, one of the most important reasons why the Taliban have stolen the possibilities and opportunities for the advancement of women is to provide the opportunity for unequal marriages of girls with their fighters. The Taliban know very well that an educated girl with income will never accept an uneducated, uncivilized mullah as her lord and husband. That is why the Taliban’s policies are aimed at restricting women’s abilities and taking advantage of the extreme poverty of families. Moreover, undoubtedly, the traditional and stereotyped perspective of the people, in relation to women’s position and rights, also turns everything in favor of the Taliban’s inhumane policies. Also, in remote villages and districts, the Taliban and other men target teenage and young girls more boldly and, with the force of a gun, make young girl’s families obey them.”
It all happened after that, Mawlawi Nabi Ghafoori, one of the religious scholars in Faryab, had recently stated in a public gathering regarding the marriage of girls with Taliban fighters: “Either be a mullah’s wife or his cow.” Recently, in a video recorded on 27th, December 2022, and sent to Hasht-e-Sobh Newspaper, talking about the women’s situation in Afghanistan, the mullah is encouraging and provoking girls to get married to the Taliban fighters.
In addition to Mawlawi Ghafoori’s misogynistic remarks, the acting minister of higher education of the Taliban, Nada Mohammad Nadim, after announcing the ban on education and the closing of universities, said that in Islam, a woman’s alimony is obligatory for a man, and the “common sense” dictates that a man is responsible to work, not a woman. According to Nadim’s opinion, there is no need for women to work. Before this, Shamsuddin Humayoon, the Taliban district governor for the Darqad district of the northern province of Takhar married twice in just a week.
Nadim also said that it is a “Shame” for women to go to schools, gyms, and playgrounds; on Friday, 6th of January, 2002, Nadim also said in a videotape that the previous republic had paved the way for “insulting women” and that the Taliban would not continue the “humiliation”: he also added: “If I allow a woman to work in institutions, do not regard Islamic hijab, go to the park, do sports, what answer am I supposed to give to Allah the almighty, the Muslim nation, and scholars?”.
The gates of secondary and higher schools, universities, baths, gymnasiums, and recreational places have been closed to all Afghan women after the Taliban’s restrictions on women. Additionally, women in Afghanistan have been denied the right to education, study, work, and travel. Meanwhile, a substantial number of women and human rights activists have called the Taliban’s treatment of Afghan women a clear example of “gender apartheid”.