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Afghanistan: Protests over Women’s Rights and Free Speech

The Taliban stated in the recent days that they will more moderate and the new rulers will work towards women empowerment and also the women’s rights will be respected but according to the Sharia law. But the ongoing events suggest that the Taliban has already turned back to their usual ways. 

Women in Kabul and the north-eastern Afghanistan province of Badakhshan have protested against the formation of an all-male-made Taliban government to rule the country. The protest comes in a way to express that the people especially the women will not accept a government with no female representatives specifically ministers. As per the reports by a local news organisation Etilaatroz, the women were beaten before the protest was dispersed. The protest in Kabul on Wednesday is being regarded as a bold step towards the Taliban rule. This is the largest protest since the group assumed power, and the experts believe the brutal crackdown was about sending a message about how things will be under the new regime. On 7th September 2021, in western Herat, three people were killed during another protest which was taking place there.

Also, the reporters who had been covering the protests were detained and beaten. The reason for the same was stated that they were covering the rally. Taliban has further warned that protests like these are illegal and the protestors should be ready to face the consequences if they further take part in such events. 

As per the reports, the Taliban has banned Afghan women from playing sports as well. While officials at the Afghanistan cricket board say they have not been informed officially of the fate of women’s cricket, the board’s programme for girls has already been suspended. Further, the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq stated, “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because women don’t need to play cricket,” Wasiq said. “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this”.

As per the reports by a senior United Nations official Alison Davidian,  the women are being prevented from leaving their homes without a male relative, and in many other provinces, they are being forced to stop working. Protection centres for women fleeing violence and safe houses for women’s rights activists, already at a full capacity, are also being targeted by the group. The United States has also expressed concerns about the new cabinet which includes only Taliban with troubling track records and no women. 

The issue of women’s rights will be a dominating issue for the new government. The world will set eyes on this and judge their actions. But the mention of women once in three pages of the announcement in the recent events showcases that the Taliban’s attitude towards women has not changed since they were in power the last time, although they have always claimed to the contrary.