Women’s rights in Taliban controlled Afghanistan: is history repeating itself?

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Adverts depicting women in wedding dresses are being painted over. Everywhere, the now mandatory burqa is returning from its cupboard, its market price hiking up tenfold. As the Taliban descends on Afghanistan, so does the threat to female liberation. The Taliban’s treatment of women was notorious twenty years ago: an Amnesty International report details that 80% of marriages were forced, the burqa was mandatory in public spaces and women were prohibited from education after the age of eight.  

Following the 2001 international intervention, progress has been made. 2009 saw Afghanistan adopt the Elimination of Violence Against Women law, and American and British occupation saw a growth in the number of women entering education. All, however, has not been easy and light. An estimated 3.7 million children do not attend school, 60% of which are female, and longstanding socio-economic barriers have ensured that widespread access to education has been limited. With the Taliban takeover almost ensured, additional barriers are likely to be enforced: there are reports of women burning their degree certificates in Kabul.  

It is easy to resign ourselves to a future where we pity and sympathise with a population we feel we cannot help

It is easy to forget that before the 1979 Soviet invasion, women wore miniskirts and attended university. There is a history of progress that we must not erase in Western retelling. Today, there is at least a theoretically educated foot on the ladder that may prove strong enough to provide some underground learning.  

And, perhaps more importantly, there is the international eye. A spokesperson for the Taliban told the BBC that they will “remain respectful of the rights of women”, and that their policies will ensure women “will have access to education and work”. It is, of course, far too early to tell what this looks like in practice; reports from Saturday show women being forced from their positions at work and out of university in fallen provinces.  

It is easy to assume how this blackout will look and, crucially, to dismiss it: to resign ourselves to a future where we pity and sympathise with a population we feel we cannot help whilst history repeats itself, and to share videos on social media without putting any real action behind it.  

As the Taliban erase the female image, we can remember. We can act, using our political voices to advocate for women

This does not have to be the case. Charities such as the International Rescue Committee, Afghan Aid and Afghan Women for Women are active and practising and need our support. Closer to home, at the very least, we can reach out to Afghan communities. We can counter thoughtless comments about the Muslim population, and remind ourselves of the dangers that this invasion poses, not just to the Afghan people but internationally.

We can then call on our politicians to provide aid and protection to the Afghans who acted as translators for the British, to charter evacuation flights for the activists (male and female) next on the Taliban’s hit list, and then turn to charities such as Choose Love and Amnesty International for ways in which we can support refugees.  

As the Taliban erase the female image, we can remember. We can act, using our political voices to advocate for the women who may soon have only the recollection of their former liberation. 

Image: DVIDSHUB via Flickr

One thought on “Women’s rights in Taliban controlled Afghanistan: is history repeating itself?

  • People ask Y did the ANA fold up so easy and so soon ?

    The ANA was trained by the Indians – and so,it was doomed !

    It was ONLY the USSR which invested in the ANA , and developed its leadership and IDENTIFIED TALENT , for recruitment.

    Y ?

    Because of IDEOLOGY ! Communism !

    It was the intellectual coordinate and intersection of Communism,between the USSR and the Afghans – which provided the osmotic and symbiotic relationship between the 2 ,and thus,the 2 armies and their nations and leaders,,were comrades in arms and partners in an ideological war.THERE WAS NEVER A THREAT PERCEPTION TO THE USSR,FROM THE ANA

    USA was just using the ANA as cannon fodder and mercenaries.There was NO IDEOLOGICAL COORDINATE OR PROXIMITY OR CONVERGENCE.

    The entire military strategy and leadership was American.The US aim was to keep 350000 ,men FROM JOINING TALIBAN and using the ANA,to keep the Taliban and Al
    Qaeda ON THE MOVE.When there is movement, enemies BECOME TARGETS – who can then be killed !There was never any attempt to build an ANA leadership ,as the ANA would have toppled Ghani ,as soon as the US left.

    The issue is not the technology given to the ANA.You do not need high-tech to fight Taliban.Basically,the ANA knew that the Taliban were at BAY ONLY DUE TO THE
    AMERICANS.ANA WAS USED TO KEEP THE TARGET MOVING AND VISIBLE and the TRIANGULATION WAS ALL DONE BY THE US WITH DRONES AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY

    ANA knew that once the US left .- it was ONLY A QUESTION OF TIME ! The ANA could not even protect the Salma Dam of the Indians which was also a disaster
    like Chabahar !

    And with the exit of the US, the vacuous ness of the Afghan regime’s ideology,was exposed – and so,the ANA said – WHAT ARE WE DYING FOR – NOW ?

    There is a misconception about the 1 Trillion USD spent by the US,Most of it is transfer pricing, like salaries on the US army.Some of it is Military Training and R&D – which is experimentation with new tech and tactics.The payments to ANA and The Afghan state ,are TO CREATE A MINION OF SPIES AND AGENTS FOR LIFE – SO IT IS AN INVESTMENT – NOT A COST.

    The Residual cost of A FEW BILLION USD, IS THE COST OF NOT HAVING A 9/11 – CAT INSURANCE ! AND IT WAS WORTH IT FOR THE US !

    But now,if the US does NOT BAIL OUT TALIBAN – THEN THAT INSURANCE POLICY MIGHT BLOW UP ! dindooohindoo

    Reply

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