The Suffering Of Women And Girls Under Taliban Rule – OpEd


The world watches in collective despair as the plight of women and girls in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. With the international community largely echoing sentiments of concern but demonstrating limited action, it’s high time we shift from mere lip service to tangible intervention.

Ever since the Taliban’s resurgence in August 2021, Afghanistan’s women and girls have been subjected to a regressive and oppressive regime. Malala Yousafzai, a beacon of hope for many, has fervently advocated for their rights, emphasizing the urgent need for global solidarity. “The systematic erasure of women and girls from public life by the Taliban is a grave violation of humanity,” she rightly points out, urging nations to categorize gender apartheid as a crime against humanity.

The recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) underscores this grim reality. Labeling the Taliban as “de facto authorities” due to its lack of international recognition, UNAMA highlights the draconian measures imposed on women and girls. From restricted access to education and employment to stringent dress codes and curtailed mobility, the Taliban’s edicts have pushed Afghan women into the shadows of oppression. Shockingly, in some provinces, women and girls can’t even visit local markets without male companionship, while beauty salons, previously a sanctuary of sorts, face forced closures.

Despite widespread awareness and numerous reports documenting these atrocities, tangible improvements remain elusive. Niloufar Nikseyar, an academic from Herat University, encapsulates this sentiment, expressing her relentless hope that global voices will usher in change. Yet, the stark reality remains unchanged. Women like Nikseyar, who organize reading sessions, must even seek Taliban approval for such gatherings, underscoring the pervasive control exerted over every facet of their lives.

The Taliban’s broken promises exacerbate this dire situation. Initially pledging adherence to Islamic law and Shariah, their actions tell a different story. Sahraa Karimi, an acclaimed Afghan film director now residing in the United States, aptly terms these policies as “gender apartheid,” emphasizing their grave implications. Karimi’s fears are not unfounded. As the Taliban tighten their grip, the risk of Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground for radical ideologies looms large, posing a global threat.

Shaharzad Akbar, a renowned rights advocate and former head of Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission, resonates with this sentiment. Living in the UK and recognized for her relentless pursuit of human rights, Akbar stresses the need to amplify the voices of Afghan women. “We must not allow the Taliban’s distortions to shape Afghanistan’s narrative,” she affirms, urging human rights activists and the media to counteract these narratives.

So, where does the solution lie? Beyond rhetoric, actionable steps are imperative. Malala Yousafzai offers a pragmatic approach, emphasizing the need for immediate intervention. She underscores the importance of providing continued education to Afghan girls, leveraging alternative and digital platforms to circumvent the school ban. This sentiment resonates with many. Philanthropists, investors, and international organizations must ramp up their support, channeling resources to initiatives that empower Afghan women and girls.

Moreover, the onus rests heavily on the international community, especially Western countries and regional powers. While the geopolitical landscape is complex, the moral imperative is clear: safeguard the rights and dignity of Afghan women and girls. It’s time to move beyond passive condemnations and take concrete actions. Whether through diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, or humanitarian aid, the international community must send an unequivocal message to the Taliban: human rights violations, especially those targeting women and girls, will not be tolerated.

In conclusion, the deteriorating situation of women and girls in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan demands immediate global intervention. As the world grapples with myriad challenges, this crisis underscores the pressing need for unity, solidarity, and action. Let’s not allow history to judge us harshly. Instead, let’s stand together, championing the rights of every Afghan woman and girl, ensuring they live free from oppression, fear, and discrimination.

Ali Khan Bangash

Ali Khan Bangash is a student of MPhil in International Relations at Quaid Azam University Islamabad.

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