Afghan women activists fear for their lives under the Taliban

For the past 20 years, Afghan women activists have been at the forefront of justice for their loved ones in the homeland. From education to politics to careers, women leaders have emerged as trailblazers moving through the glass ceiling, together forging resources and rights to ensure a future where gender equality is not. than a dream.

Now, with the Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan amid a breakdown in security and promises, it looks like women there will be forced to walk on broken glass – something they shattered with so much. sorrow and courage. Only fragments will remain to tell the story of the independence they were so close to actualizing before the dark days set in.

“I am currently in Afghanistan and worried about my vague future. I have been a fierce critic of the Taliban and I have no idea what my future will look like in Afghanistan – whether I will survive or not ”, Zarmina Kakar, a prominent women’s rights activist and political member of the Afghan National Consensus Party, said SheThePeople.

“The occupation of Afghanistan by the Taliban is very painful and worrying for Afghan women. We have sacrificed and fought for twenty years for human rights and women’s freedoms in this country … we have bitter memories of the Taliban’s past that will not be forgotten.

As a young girl who grew up in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 during the Afghan civil war, Kakar remembers her mother being flogged by men from the radical Islamist terrorist group on the streets for revealing her face .

Even before the Taliban took Kabul on August 15, the diktat of cover-up according to the group’s reading of what they call the “authentic” ways of Islam had already made its way into the announcements. Taliban spokespersons, in no uncertain terms, have said that women in public will be required to wear the veil. Women turned away from universities in the early hours of the Taliban’s rule were said to have been told that the hijab would now be part of everyday wear.

“If I wear the burqa, it means that I have accepted the Taliban government… I am afraid of losing the achievements for which I have fought so hard,” says a student The Guardian.

Afghan women activists fear a return to the dark ages – and yet they persist

As much as the future of Afghan women’s clothing choice looks bleak today, so too is their identity through education. According to UNICEF in Afghanistan, 3.7 million children in the country are out of school, a majority of 60 percent of whom are girls. Compounded by the lack of appropriate resources and socio-cultural factors such as early marriage, education as a basic right is not accessible for many Afghan girls.

Under the Taliban, education is expected to continue to decline aggressively. “A very small number of children went to school today,” Kakar said, a day after the Taliban began to rule.

Pashtana durrani, educator, columnist and founder of the non-profit association LEARN, tells ShePeople Taliban assurances about upholding the rights of women and girls have so far been vague.

The group said it would allow girls to continue their education, “but what kind of education? Durrani asks. “Islamic studies or general learning? »Questions also abound as to the application of the diplomas thus acquired, since reports show working women are escorted home from their regular public jobs, urged never to return.

“Political rights are also very important for women right now,” Durrani adds. “If we don’t have 50% of a vote on what our representatives do in parliament or the presidential palace, what kind of country does that make it?” Ensuring the protection of women’s “educational, political and social rights” is essential, she said.

There is fear in the streets, say the two activists. Afghan women hastily withdrew from the public fearing for their lives.

Selected voices – Afghan women artists, journalists, public speakers and human rights defenders – are currently able to escape into the world to speak simultaneously of horrors and resistance. They are holding their own on the front lines, refusing to back down, but appealing to the global community: stay with them, protest with them and, as Zarmina Kakar says, “don’t let Afghan women go back to the dark past. “

Image: Reuters

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