The Taliban; and Afghan Women’s Progressive Ideals
By: Sh. Hotak & A. N. Hotak
The developments of August 15, 2021, resulted in the Taliban regaining power in Afghanistan. Despite the claims made by the Taliban‘s representatives during the Doha negotiations regarding their stance on women, they have caused numerous issues for women, leading to a tumultuous situation, particularly for Afghan women. Moreover, in the history of Afghanistan, this regime has initiated a difficult period of crime, oppression, and deprivation of women‘s rights. Examples of such discriminatory practices towards women include the abolishment of the Ministry of Women‘s Affairs, the closure of educational centers for girls above the sixth grade, the prohibition of women from working and traveling without a mahram, and the banning of sports activities. Consequently, for women, the Taliban has become a nightmare that prevents them from achieving their aspirations for freedom. This article is an earnest effort to bring justice by examining some of the Taliban‘s misogynistic policies.
The Taliban and Women
In order to comprehend the extremist policies towards women, we must focus on the attitude of the soldiers towards women, rather than the embellished words of the Taliban’s spokespersons. It is evident that the angry norms caused by religious readings and the primitive culture in the rural areas of the country are the primary factors that shape this group‘s mindset in regards to women. This group does not deem women eligible for anything outside of the home. Women under the Taliban rule are restricted to the four walls of their homes, their husbands, and their fathers, which is a form of gender discrimination and confinement. This discriminatory treatment has caused women and girls to cease working and studying, as well as suffer mentally and emotionally. The laws imposed on women are becoming increasingly stringent. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Taliban have become an Azrael that turns homes into cemeteries and buries women there.
The Perils of Misogyny
The Taliban‘s increasingly stringent policies towards women are becoming more and more pervasive, while they claim to be creating a safe and tranquil environment for them. This assertion is reminiscent of the fable of the “wolf in sheep‘s clothing“, rather than providing any assurance. Through various edicts, the Taliban has made it compulsory for women to be accompanied by a mahram when travelling, renting a house, or using public transport. An example of this oppressive and authoritarian attitude can be seen in the incident of a Taliban member who treated a taxi driver and his passengers, a woman with a young child, in a deplorable manner. The video of this incident went viral, showing the Taliban member slapping the driver for taking a woman without a mahram, and forcing his passengers to disembark.
In provinces that are not under the scrutiny of the media, women have no security. On Thursday, 10 November, The Japan Times reported a shocking example of gender discrimination against women under the rule of the Taliban: the return of divorced women to their former husbands, who instead sent them to slaughterhouses. Rahnaward Zaryab has described these slaughterhouses in a story called “Chapan Siah.” According to the poet Sanaie, the result of such an act is burning and crying in vain for those who were forced to remarry their ex–husbands.
Discrimination Even in Education
Those with an interest in history are aware that in the early days, science and education were only accessible to powerful priests and elites, thus limiting spiritual wealth to ordinary people who were forced to work and obey the elites and their children, resulting in class discrimination in learning science. However, with the arrival of Islam, knowledge was made a reward and accessible to all. Examples of this can be seen in the Islamic governments of Baghdad and Cordoba. However, what the “Islamic Emirate of the Taliban” has revealed today is in stark contrast to this characteristic principle of Islam, as the gates of educational centers remain closed to girls and women, leaving ordinary people to struggle to gain an education. In an interview with Piers Morgan, published on Sky News Australia‘s YouTube channel on May 11, 2022, the spokesman of the Taliban, Suhail Shaheen, confirmed that his daughters go to school.
Contrary to the Taliban‘s claims that power islands have been eliminated in Afghanistan, the truth is that they have been strengthened and increased. There is no clear definition of the term “power island,” but if it is understood to refer to a place where a powerful person rules over his subordinates with force, then current Afghanistan, under the control of Mullah Hibatullah, is the largest power island with neither national nor international legitimacy. In Afghanistan, the leader speaks to his “audience“ from behind a curtain, and each of their orders is more oppressive than the last. Women in particular are facing severe repression, with the Taliban responding to their peaceful petitions with arrests and suppression, and enforcing the humiliation and insult of the nation.
The Taliban‘s presence and ideology have been a persistent affliction for Afghan women, as noted by pioneering writer Sadeq Hedayat, consuming them from within until they reach a state of total emptiness. Adopting such a mindset would be a betrayal of the progress made in the last two decades for Afghan women, and would lead the country to suffer from gender inequality. Afghan women urge their fellow citizens to not partake in the Taliban‘s atrocities.