Taliban Still Suppress Women’s Protest in Kabul
By: Fahim Amin
A large number of female protesters from Afghanistan descended upon the streets of Kabul to voice their opposition to the Taliban’s oppressive policies that deny women their rights to education, work, and other opportunities. The protesters chanted slogans such as “Right, justice, and freedom”. However, the Taliban members dispersed the female protesters and attempted to prevent them from gathering. The female protesters vowed to continue their protests until they receive their rights from the Taliban, who have employed female members of the Taliban in an effort to discourage such gatherings.
On March 26, a march was held on Dasht Barchi Road in the western part of Kabul by several female protesters. The protesters chanted “Right, Justice, and Freedom“ and called for the reopening of girls‘ schools and colleges. This protest was organized by the “Engagement and Justice“ group, and female protesters from other groups also participated.
Safia, one of the protestors, informed Hasht–e–Subh that the closure of the girls‘ middle and high schools was the underlying cause of the protests. She stated, “The new educational year has commenced, yet the Taliban are not permitting girls to attend school and colleges to pursue their education.” The girls’ protest was suspended when they were encircled by Taliban members in front of Al-Zahra Mosque, not far from the location where the protest began: Pul-e-Sokhta area in Dasht-e-Barchi road, in the west of Kabul.
Safia continued, stating that the Taliban had employed a different tactic, which was to quell female protests by deploying female members of the Taliban. The Ministry of Interior had instructed the female members to disperse the protest, initially requesting that the protesters board their vehicles. However, upon the arrival of the female members of the Taliban, the protest was dispersed.Videos posted on social media of protests in the capital show that there were numerous female protesters taking part in the march. One of the women declared, “The Taliban has been denying Afghan women their right to work, education, oversight, and other fundamental rights for the past fifteen months. We have been suffering mentally for over a year and a half; we are demonstrating against the Taliban‘s policies here in the streets of Kabul.” The female protester continued, saying that girls are committing suicide daily as the suicide rate, forced marriages, and underage marriages have all risen in Afghanistan, causing girls to be confined to their homes like prisoners.
Many women chanted slogans during the protest, including “You Took Away My Land; Don‘t Take Away My Right to Education,”, “Wise Mother, Mighty Country,” and “Either Everyone or No One.” However, the Taliban interfered, ending the female protest prematurely and detaining some of the female protestors. There is no information available regarding the status of the arrested female protestors.
The Afghan women‘s protest coincided with the beginning of the new educational year and the start of spring. The Taliban have denied girls the right to pursue higher education, while allowing boys to attend universities and schools. Furthermore, they have prohibited girls from having access to education, work, and social participation when the autumn classes ended last year. The Taliban leaders have asserted that the ban on girls is only temporary and will be resolved shortly, citing cultural concerns, female immunity, and Islamic Sharia as justification. Nevertheless, these explanations have not been accepted by either Afghans or the international community.
The Taliban‘s Ministry of Economics has temporarily prohibited women from working in non–governmental organizations. Furthermore, women are not permitted to visit theme parks, utilize public restrooms, avail themselves of free city tours, or travel unaccompanied by a family member, which has elicited global reactions, yet the Taliban have not responded to or accepted any of them.
The Taliban have made multiple attempts to oppress, mistreat, and incarcerate female protestors in Afghanistan over the past two years, yet women have continued to organize protest marches. Moreover, the female protesters in the west of Kabul declared that they would persist in their protests until the Taliban‘s leaders promised to protect women and girls‘ basic rights.