Women Living Under Taliban Restrictions: Why Remain Isolated?
By: Tamana Arif
I am reminded of René Descartes‘s famous saying “I think; therefore, I am“ when I think of the Taliban‘s current restrictions on women. However, this statement could be rephrased to “They ban; therefore, they are“. Descartes believed that thinking was essential for the survival of humanity, but in contrast, politicians, totalitarian governments, and restrictive groups like the Taliban are proving their survival by relying on their oppressive measures.
Unfortunately, the Taliban have been successful in imposing their restrictions on innocent women and girls, which I think has had a negative impact on every Afghan girl, including myself. Afghanistan‘s political sphere is rapidly changing as Afghans have lost the sense of living in a diverse society. The most striking characteristic of living in the current situation of Afghanistan is that women, girls, and everyone else feel abandoned, isolated, and alone. Afghan girls have been deprived of their fundamental rights since the Taliban takeover, and Hebatullah, the Taliban‘s leader, has put an end to the girls‘ dreams of continuing higher education with his gender–biased order.
Recently, I wanted to meet a friend of mine, so I took a taxi. The front seat was reserved by a supporter of the Taliban. To inform my friend of the traffic jam we were stuck in, I began taking a photo of the scene. The young man sitting in the front seat then said that women did not have the right to take photos or sit among men in the taxi. I remained silent and waited to reach my destination, feeling sad. When I got out of the taxi, I noticed that there were no signs of women on the pavement, and the city seemed like a cold, empty graveyard. I contacted my friends and they complained about the frustrating situation for Afghan women in the country, adding that the city had lost its soul since girls were not allowed to receive higher education. It is not surprising that the whole society has drifted apart since the Taliban took political power in Afghanistan, leaving women in a state of solitude.
The Taliban recently issued a decree that denies Afghan girls the right to take university entrance exams in 2023. This means that universities across Afghanistan will not accept female students until further notice, leading to a potential disaster that could strip Afghan women of their right to participate in social activities. A country without the presence of women is a soulless one, so it is essential that we take action to restore women‘s rights and allow them to engage in social and political life without giving up on their dreams. I urge all Afghan women to continue fighting for their rights and to use their collective power to overcome the Taliban‘s attempts to oppress them.