The return of the Taliban government in August 2021 did not bode well for the females in Afghanistan. During the Afghan peace deal, the Taliban promised to ensure women’s rights in Kabul to garner international recognition. However, soon after their complete take-over of the Afghan territory, they started curtailing the fundamental rights of women one by one. Initially, girls were prohibited from attending secondary schools.
Currently, university education has been altogether suspended for girls on the illogical pretext of ensuring the safety of women. It implies that women have no right to education and are not considered an integral part of Afghanistan. Hence, Afghanistan has become a forbidden place for girls. The so-called patronage of Islam- Taliban- failed to be the epitome of Islamic values which truly believes in gender equality and girls’ right to education. If women are kept deprived of their right to education, Kabul would succumb to the age of darkness where women were not treated as a human being.
The agony of Afghan women does not end here. Women who aspire to serve their nation as doctors and teachers can no longer see their future anywhere during the incumbent Taliban government. A medical student Sahira Wafa, while giving an interview to a news channel cried out louder over the nefarious act of the Taliban regime. She said, ‘’ Taliban has banned us from everything. University was our last hope. Hence, it has been also closed.’’ The crackdown of the Taliban on girls’ education broke out a massive protest where girls gathered and sought their basic human rights. The international media and all other Muslim countries have strictly condemned the inhumane treatment of women in Afghanistan. However, all such condemnations fall on deaf ears of the Taliban. Universities are completely shut down. Girls are in a state of despair and sorrow. They are not even allowed to speak up against the atrocities being inflicted on them.
From the very start, The Afghan Taliban has discouraged freedom of speech for all and sundry, particularly females. Women are being restricted from peaceful protest. Their voices are silenced. They are threatened and beaten. It can be manifested in the viral video on social media where Afghan Taliban could be seen using water cannons on women protesting for their right to education. The Taliban government has left no stone unturned to confine women in four walls and bar them from every walk of life. Despite the Taliban’s brutal attempts, the Afghan women showed great resistance and continued to seek their international human rights.
Moreover, Afghanistan is no more a pro-women state. The domestic and international non-state organizations were ordered to suspend the Afghan women for not properly wearing their scarves. Hence, women are barred from pursuing their rights to employment. In these hard times, the few financially independent women will fall below the poverty line. Their miseries would compound in no time. It will not be exaggerated to say that Afghanistan is not a safe state for women. Their rights are not religiously or socially decided, rather the Taliban have to decide the fate of women
The life of women is becoming miserable day by day. A woman in Afghanistan is not allowed to go outside without a man. She has no right to entertainment or recreational activities. Her abode is defined to be only inside the four walls of the home. It is hence not far that one day, a woman will not be allowed to live in Afghanistan. The crackdown against women will revive the twenty years old rule of the Taliban in which women were confined to their homes.
After the analysis of the dire status of women rights in Afghanistan, the major stakeholders of fundamental rights must strongly condemn the brutal attempts of the Taliban government against women. Muslim states such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, etc. should stand in solidarity with Afghan women and arrange a dialogue with the Afghan Taliban regarding ensuring women rights. A dialogue will help convince the Taliban to stay true to their promise made during the Afghan peace deal. Moreover, Afghan women must be morally supported. Their right to education must not be compromised at any cost.
In a nutshell, no country can progress by ignoring half of the female population. Afghanistan cannot become stable and economically prosperous by depriving girls of their basic human rights. The right to education is Afghan girls’ universally accepted right. Therefore, the Taliban government must not fight against women’s education and other rights. Rather, the fight against the Taliban should be against terrorism, poverty, and other social evils. Afghan women are equal citizens of the Afghan territory. Therefore, the Taliban must recognize women’s rights and such an environment should be created for women where they can feel secure and protected. Let the Afghan woman breathe freely and live her life as per her religiously and universally accepted human rights.
Jehangir Khan Mehsud, the writer is a graduate of economics and political science from Forman Christian College University, Lahore.