State of Women in Afghanistan in 2021

 “State of Women in Afghanistan in 2021”

State of Women in Afghanistan in 2021

The Taliban instil fear in Afghan women of a return to a repressive past. When the U.S. ousted the Taliban, women and girls have reintegrated into society in ways that would have been unthinkable during the Taliban's reign. These achievements are now jeopardised due to the Taliban's return. Fearing for their lives and prospects under Taliban rule, Afghan women remain ensconced in their houses. It represents the fear and worry Afghan women are experiencing as they try to figure out what would happen to them if the Taliban gain control of the nation.

Millions fear a return to the Taliban's repressive past, when women were prohibited from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian, schooling for females was abolished, and those who broke the group's morality code were publicly flogged. Taliban leaders, on the other hand, are attempting to convince women that this time will be different. A Taliban spokesperson stated on Tuesday at a press conference in Kabul that women will be permitted to work and study. Another Taliban official stated that women should be allowed to run for office. As stated by Zabihullah Mujahid, they guarantee that there will be no violence against women, and no discrimination against women will be tolerated, but Islamic ideals will serve as the guide; that within the boundaries of Islamic law, women may engage in society.

A look into the past

For Afghan women, the Taliban reign from 1996 to 2001 was a difficult time, and the years following have been filled with pain and misery for both men and women. The treatment of women is the one universally recognised bright point. When the Taliban governed, they imposed limits on conduct, attire, and mobility, and they publicly humiliated and flogged women who did not follow their regulations. Adulterous women were stoned to death. Homosexuality was a capital offence punishable by death. Because of the restriction on females' education, female teachers were driven to set up covert schools for girls in their houses. Women medical workers continued to work, albeit in rigorously sex-segregated settings. 

The United States has spent more than $780 million to promote women's rights in the two decades after the invasion ousted the Taliban.Girls and women have joined the military and police forces, held political office, competed in the Olympics, and achieved high heights on robotics teams, all of which were previously inconceivable under the Taliban rule.

The question now is whether the Taliban's interpretation of Islamic law will be as harsh as it was when it was in power last. Following the Taliban's collapse 20 years ago, women enjoyed a plethora of options. They were able to finish their education, but their prospects are now dismal and uncertain. All those years of hard work and dreaming had been for nothing. And who knows what the future holds for the little girls who are just starting out.

Back to old patterns?

There are already scattered evidence that the Taliban have begun to reimpose the old rule, at least in certain regions. Women in several areas have been advised not to leave the house without being escorted by a male relative. Witnesses said Taliban militants guarded the university's gates in Herat, western Afghanistan, and stopped female students and teachers from entering. Women's health clinics in Kandahar's southern city have been closed, according to a resident. Since the Taliban took control of certain provinces in November, girls' schools have been shuttered in some areas.

Women there claimed they were beginning to wear the head-to-toe burqa in public, partially out of fear and partly in expectation of Taliban regulations. Women students at Kabul University in the city were informed they couldn't leave their dorm rooms unless they were escorted by a male guardian. Two students said that they were practically imprisoned in the city since they had no male relatives. Aliya Kazimy, a 27-year-old university lecturer in Mazar-i-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, reported that women shopping alone in the city's bazaar were turned away and urged to return with male guardians.

There were also some indications that the Taliban were taking a more lenient approach toward the role of women and girls in some situations. A Taliban-appointed health commissioner visited Herat and requested that women who work for the Health Department return to work (Unicef). However, there are conflicting messages being conveyed regarding educational issues. Local Taliban authorities in some places claimed they were waiting for instructions from superiors, but in others they stated they wanted schools for boys and girls up and operating.

Taliban's observation of women's rights

Even when Taliban officials rhetorized a little more softly on women's rights, there was still a significant gap between what they were saying during the TV interviews and what they did in the reality. In recent months and years, local commanders sometimes took steps, such as the complete shutdown of girls' schools, even for girls in elementary school age. The world saw how close to the edge the Taliban beliefs of what Islam allowed were while they governed from 1996 and 2001. As Taliban forces have triumphed across the nation in recent weeks, it has felt as though the pretence of moderation has been abandoned, with worrying tales of school closures, mobility restrictions, and women being forced to leave their professions. The Taliban spokesperson has continued to assert that women's rights are respected, but his comments are more false than ever.

Lack of an effective law to protect women’s rights

Legal improvements in Afghanistan, as well as improved educational and job possibilities, have been hailed as major achievements for Afghan women and girls since 2001. The training of a cadre of female attorneys, prosecutors, and judges, as well as the introduction of new legislation, resulted in improvements in legal safeguards. The EVAW law was one of the most important of these. The EVAW legislation, signed by the president in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2018, criminalises 22 crimes of violence against women, including rape, assault, forced marriage, stopping women from acquiring property, and preventing a woman or girl from attending school or working.

However, complete implementation of the law is still a long way off, with police, prosecutors, and courts frequently discouraging women from filing charges and encouraging them to seek family mediation instead. An Afghan woman or girl confronts opposition from the time she decides to submit a complaint under the EVAW law. In many situations involving domestic violence perpetrated by a male family member – typically the husband – police dissuade women from filing a report and urge them to return home and reconcile. Even if a woman is successful in filing a case, she is usually forced to drop it due to pressure from family.

Growing Taliban influence and authority, as well as the prospect of a future coalition government with conservative lawmakers, has raised concerns among Afghan women's rights activists that legislation like the EVAW law could be jeopardised.

The idea that the Taliban will instantly change their methods has been met with scepticism. Many women have kept at home, fearful of coming afoul of local Taliban leaders. In recent days, Kabul citizens have begun ripping down ads depicting women without head scarves.  Today, a generation of Afghan girls and young women regard the Taliban era as a black shadow from their mother's past, rather than a cycle that threatens to rob them of their future. Women and girls in Afghanistan have had some independence in the previous 20 years and are now seeking more. For a new generation of Afghan girls who grew up going to school and dreaming big, the Taliban period is ancient history, and rolling back the clock is a practically unfathomable fate.







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