• Taliban onslaught: Afghan women stare at a dark future ahead

    Taliban onslaught: Afghan women stare at a dark future ahead

    In February 2020, after 20 years in Afghanistan, the U.S. and the Taliban signed an accord agreeing with the withdrawal of American troops that paved the way for the first direct talks between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan republic since 2001.

    This year, the Taliban have swiftly taken control of large parts of the country since the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan in July. Lack of Afghanistan forces and international pressure, the Taliban have intensified their violence in the country. For Afghan women, their increasing power is terrifying. The president has also fled, and because of which the government has also fallen.

    The Taliban took control of many parts of Afghanistan, including the provinces of Badakhshan and Takhar, and issued the order to local religious leaders, saying to provide them with a list of girls over the age of 15 and widows under the age of 45 for “marriage” with Taliban fighters, sources. If these forced marriages happen, women and girls will be taken to Waziristan in Pakistan to be re-educated, and converted to “authentic Islam.”

    This order has caused fear among women and their families living in that area and forced them to flee and join the number of internally displaced people. Around 900,000 people have been dispatched in the past three months.

    A harsh reminder of brutal actions in the 1996-2001 regime, women were subjected to human rights violations, denied education and employment, forced to wear the burqa, and were not allowed to leave homes without a male “guardian” or mahram.

    The Taliban claimed to have changed their stance on women’s rights, but their actions commit thousands of women to sexual slavery, which demonstrates quite the opposite. The Taliban have signaled their intention to deny girls’ education past the age of 12, to ban women from employment, and reinstate the law requiring women to be accompanied by a guardian.

    Offering “wives” is a strategy aimed at luring militants to join the Taliban. But, this is sexual enslavement, not marriage. Under the guise of marriage, the women are forced into sexual slavery which is both a war crime and a crime against humanity.

    The Taliban leaders claimed that they wish to grant women’s rights “according to Islam.” But when the women were interviewed about the same, they said that they believe the Taliban still reject the philosophy of gender equality. Women’s right is being rolled away, the Taliban included no women in its negotiating team, and as their local fighters are taking over districts of the Afghans.

    A schoolteacher recently fell to the Taliban told us that, “In the beginning, when we saw the Taliban interviews on TV, we hoped for peace, as if the Taliban had changed. But when I saw the Taliban up close, they have not changed at all.”

    Taliban fighters in areas under their control often announced that women must now wear the burqa and have a male chaperone in public by using mosque loudspeakers. They burn public schools, libraries, and computer labs.

    Such actions demonstrate to many in Afghanistan that the Taliban disagree with the basic principles of democracy, including gender equality and free expression.