Women Standing against Taliban in Afghanistan

A group of women in Afghanistan since the fall of the previous government are trying to stand against the Taliban government and their rules .

it happened in different cities of Afghanistan and however they faced bad behavior but still they are not stopping it and trying to march with more power .

this video shows women are talking against the government and are asking for Afghan people to rise and stand with them .

Women’s rights in Afghanistan have oscillated back and forth depending on the time period. Women officially gained equality under the 1964 constitution. However, these rights were taken away in the 1990s through different temporary rulers such as the Taliban during the ongoing civil war. Especially during Taliban rule, women had very little to no freedom, specifically in terms of civil liberties. Ever since the Taliban regime was removed following the September 11 attacks in the United States, women’s rights gradually improved under the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,[4][5][6][7][8] and women were once again de jure equal to men under the 2004 constitution, which was heavily based on the 1964 constitution. However, women’s rights are still complicated by some groups (particularly ruralities) that wish a return to pre-1964 inequality, which continues to cause international concern. When the Taliban took most of Afghanistan again in 2021, concern about the future for women in the country increased.

Afghan Women during History

Before Amanullah Khan

An Afghan girl photographed during the Second Anglo-Afghan War

During the Durrani Empire (1747-1823) and the early Barakzai dynasty Afghan women customarily lived subjected in a state of purdah and gender segregation imposed by patriarchal customs. While this was the case in all Afghanistan, the customs differed somewhat between regions and ethnic groups. Nomad women, for example, did not have to hide their faces and even showed some of their hair.

Women did not play any public role in society, however they were some women, such as Ayesha Durrani, who became noted as poets and writers, which was an art form possible for a woman to perform while living in the seclusion of the harem.[17]

The rulers of Afghanistan customarily had a harem of four official wives as well as a large number of unofficial wives for the sake of tribal marriage diplomacy,[17] in addition to enslaved harem women known as kaniz and surati, guarded by the ghulam bacha (eunuchs).[18] Some women had influence over the affairs of state from inside the royal harem, notably Zarghona AnaaMirmon Ayesha and Babo Jan.[19]

Amanullah Khan

Afghan women in 1927, during the reform period of Amanullah Khan

Some Rulers of Afghanistan have attempted to increase women’s freedom. For the most part, these attempts were unsuccessful. However, there were a few leaders who were able to make some significant, if temporary, changes. The first of them was King Amanullah, who ruled from 1919 to 1929 and made some of the more noteworthy changes in an attempt to unify as well as modernize the country.[20] He promoted freedom for women in the public sphere in order to lessen the control that patriarchal families exerted over women. King Amanullah stressed the importance of female education. Along with encouraging families to send their daughters to school, he promoted the unveiling of women and persuaded them to adopt a more western style of dress.[21] In 1921, he created a law that abolished forced marriage, child marriage, and bride price, and put restrictions on polygamy, a common practice among households in the Afghanistan region.[21]

Modern social reform for Afghan women began when Queen Soraya, wife of King Amanullah, made rapid reforms to improve women’s lives and their position in the family, marriage, education and professional life.[22] She founded the first women’s magazine (Irshad-e Naswan, 1922), the first women’s organization (Anjuman-i Himayat-i-Niswan), the first school for girls (Masturat School in 1920), the first theatre for women in Paghman and the first hospital for women (the Masturat Hospital in 1924).[23] Queen Soraya set an example for the abolition of gender segregation by appearing with her husband, famously removing her veil in public, and her example was followed by others.[22] The king declared that the veil was optional, permitted Western clothes in Kabul and reserved certain streets for men and women wearing modern clothes.[24] In 1928, Amanullah sent fifteen female graduates of the Masturat middle school, daughters of the royal family and government officials, to study in Turkey.[18] Soraya Tarzi was the only woman to appear on the list of rulers in Afghanistan, and was credited with having been one of the first and most powerful Afghan and Muslim female activists.

However, Queen Soraya, along with her husband’s, advocacy of social reforms for women led to a protest and contributed to the ultimate demise of her and her husband’s reign in 1929.[25] King Amanullah Khan‘s deposition caused a severe backlash, and his successor reinstated the veil[26] and repelled the reforms in women’s rights, reinforcing purdah.[22] The Women’s Association as well as the women’s magazine was banned, the girls ‘schools were closed, the female students who had been allowed to study in Turkey was recalled to Afghanistan and forced to put on the veil and enter purdah again,[27] and polygamy for men was reintroduced.[18]

Mohammed Zahir Shah

Turkmen women weaving on a loom in Afghanistan, c. 1939; women have traditionally performed weaving work in the countryAfghan women in Kabul entering a bus during the 1950s

Successors Mohammed Nadir Shah and Mohammed Zahir Shah acted more cautiously, but nevertheless worked for the moderate and steady improvement of women’s rights[28] Women were allowed to take classes at the Masturat Women’s Hospital in Kabul in 1931, and some girls’ schools were reopened;[18] the first High School for girls was officially called a ‘Nursing School’ to prevent any opposition to it.[27] While women were again forced to be veiled in public, unveiling had become accepted in private among the Afghan upper class, and it was noted that upper-class women were met at the Kabul International Airport by servants running up to the stairs of the airplane to deliver a chadar (veil) upon their arrival to Kabul from abroad, since they had not used it during their stay abroad.[18]

After the Second World War modernization reforms were seen as necessary by the government, which resulted in the resurrection of a state women’s movement. In 1946 the government-supported Women’s Welfare Association (WWA) was founded with Queen Humaira Begum as patron, giving school classes for girls and vocational classes to women,[26] and from 1950 to 1951 women students were accepted at the Kabul University.[22]

Following the election of Mohammed Daoud Khan as Prime Minister in 1953, social reforms giving women a more public presence were encouraged.[29][30] One of his aims was to break free from the ultra-conservative, Islamist tradition of treating women as second-class citizens. During his time, he made significant advances towards modernization.[31]

The Prime Minister prepared women’s emancipation carefully and gradually. He began in 1957 by introducing women workers at the Radio Kabul and by sending women delegates to the Asian Women’s Conference in Kairo, by employing forty girls to the government pottery factory,[32] women as receptionists and telephone operators in the state Tele-Communications agency, and air hostesses at the Aryana Airlines in 1958.[18]

When this was met with no riots, the government decided it was time for the very controversial step of unveiling.[32] In August 1959, on the second day of the festival of Jeshyn, Queen Humaira Begum and Princess Bilqis appeared in the royal box at the military parade unveiled, alongside the Prime Minister’s wife, Zamina Begum.[32] A group of Islamic clerics sent a letter of protest to the Prime minister to protest and demand that the words of sharia be respected.[32] The Prime minister answered by inviting them to the capital and present proof to him that the holy scripture indeed demanded the chadri.[32] When the clerics could not find such a passage, the Prime Minister declared that the female members of the Royal Family would no longer wear veils because the Islamic law did not demand it.[32] While the chadri was never banned, the example of the Queen and the Prime Minister’s wife was followed by the wives and daughters of government officials as well as by other urban women of the upper class and middle class, with Kubra Noorzai and Masuma Esmati-Wardak known as the first commoner pioneers.[32]

The 1964 Constitution of Afghanistan granted women equal rights including universal suffrage and the right to run for office.[33] In the cities, women were able to appear unveiled, serve in public office and hold jobs as scientists, teachers, doctors, and civil servants, and they had a considerable amount of freedom with significant educational opportunities.[34] Women also started appearing in media and entertainment. Rukhshana is popularly known as one of the first female Afghan pop singers, becoming well known in the 1960s.

However, despite the effort of the Women’s Welfare Association (WWA), the majority of women continued to be excluded from these opportunities, as these reforms had little effect outside of the cities and mainly concerned urban elite women.[28] The countryside was a deeply patriarchal, tribal society, and the lives of rural women were not affected by the change taking place in the cities.[35]

In 1977, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was founded by Meena Keshwar Kamal.[36] RAWA still operates in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.[37]

Communist era

A teacher at a college in Kabul in 1987Further information: Women in the Soviet–Afghan War

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978–1987) and the Republic of Afghanistan (1987-1992), which followed the Saur revolution that toppled the government of Mohammed Daoud Khan, was a period of unprecedented equality for women in Afghanistan. The Communist ideology officially advocated gender equality and women’s rights, and the communist government sought to implement it – though without success – on all classes throughout both urban and rural Afghanistan.[38]

In 1978, the government, led by Nur Muhammad Taraki, gave equal rights to women. This gave them the theoretical ability to choose their husbands and careers.[39] The women’s emancipation policy of the government were supported by the Democratic Women’s Organisation of Afghanistan (DOAW) and later by the Afghan Women’s Council (AWC), who sought to implement it. Until 1989, the AWC was led by Masuma Esmati-Wardak and run by a staff of eight women.[40] The AWC had around 150,000 members and offices in nearly all the provinces.[40] The AWC provided social services to women in Afghanistan, in the fight against illiteracy and provided vocational training in the secretarial, hairdressing and manufacturing fields.

During the Communist era, women’s rights were supported by both the Afghan government as well as by the Soviets who supported them. In contrast to what had been the case during the monarchy, when women’s rights had been restricted to urban elite women, the Communists attempted to extend women’s rights to all classes of society, also to rural women and girls.[41]

The communist government’s ideological enforcement of female emancipation in the rural areas took the form of enforced literacy campaigns for women and compulsory schooling for girls, which was heavily resisted in particularly the Pashtun tribal areas.[38] The Communists abolished patriarchal customs still prevalent in rural areas, such as the bride price, and raised the age of consent to marriage for girls to sixteen.[42] In rural Afghanistan, gender seclusion was a strong part of local culture. To attend school girls would have to leave home, and school was therefore seen as a deeply dishonorable thing. The policy of compulsory schooling for girls as well as boys was met with a strong backlash from the conservative rural population, and contributed to the resistance against the Soviets and the Communist regime by the Mujahideen, the Islamic guerillas.[41]

The conservative rural population came to regard the urban population as degenerate partially because of the female emancipation, in which urban women mixed with men and participated in public life unveiled,[43] and female education for women, and by extension women’s rights in general, came to be associated with Communism and atheism.

While female emancipation was a part of the regime’s policy, this policy was introduced mainly to benefit the party rather for any humanist principle.[44] With a few exceptions, such as Anahita Ratebzad, Masuma Esmati-Wardak and Salcha Faruq Etemadi, most women were active at the low and the middle level of party hierarchy rather than the top.[44] During the Communist regime, thousands of urban women were recruited to the cadres and militias of the PDPA party and the Democratic Women’s Organisation of Afghanistan, and trained in military combat against the Mujahideen, the Islamic guerillas, and there was a concern among urban women that the reactionary fundamentalists would topple the Communist regime and the women’s rights it protected.[44]

The AWC came to symbolize women’s rights in the eyes of many, who feared the sacrificing of the AWC in the national reconciliation talks which started in 1987.[39] It is claimed that in 1991 around seven thousand women were in the institution of higher education and around 230,000 girls studying in schools around Afghanistan. There were around 190 female professors and 22,000 female teachers.[39]

Mujahideen era

In 1992, the government under Mohammad Najibullah transitioned to the Islamic State of Afghanistan.[45] War in Afghanistan continued into a new phase when Gulbuddin Hekmatyar started a bombardment campaign against the Islamic State in Kabul.[46] During the violent four-year civil war, a number of women were kidnapped, and some of them were raped.[20]

The Mujahideen had viewed the Communist regime as godless and anti Islamic partially because of the women’s emancipation supported by the Communist policy, and when in power, their goal was to abolish the freedom women had enjoyed during the Communist regime in order to Islamicize society.[18] The restrictions imposed when the Islamic State was established were “the ban of alcohol and the enforcement of a sometimes-purely-symbolic veil for women”.[47] On 27 August 1993, the Government Office of Research and Decrees of the Supreme Court issued an order to government agencies and state functionaries to dismiss all women in their employ, and further decreed:”Women need not leave their homes at all, unless absolutely necessary, in which case, they are to cover themselves completely; are not to wear attractive clothing and decorative accessories; do not wear perfume; their jewelry must not make any noise; they are not to walk gracefully or with pride and in the middle of the sidewalk; are not to talk to strangers; are not to speak loudly or laugh in public;and they must always ask their husbands’ permission to leave home.”[18]

In reality however this decree remained on paper only, since the government did not have enough control of the country to implement their desired policy. Women, thus, remained in the workplace despite the decree and the liberal provisions of the 1964 constitution were largely upheld. During the instable political situation in which different Islamic parties fought one another for domination, women in Kabul were abducted from their homes, jobs and offices and subjected to various forms of abuse by rivaling Mujahidin groups.[18] Many educated women and professional women were abducted and killed because the Mujahidin considered their minds to have been poisoned.[18]

Women began to be more restricted after Hekmatyar was integrated into the Islamic State as Afghan Prime Minister in 1996. He demanded for women who appeared on TV to be fired.

First Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Further information: Treatment of women by the TalibanTalibanreligious police beating a woman in Kabul filmed by RAWA on 26 August 2001

Like their leader Mullah Omar, most Taliban soldiers were poor villagers educated in Wahhabi schools in neighboring Pakistan. Pakistani Pashtuns also joined the group. The Taliban declared that women were forbidden to go to work and that they were not to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male family member. When they did go out, they were required to wear an all-covering burqa. Women were denied formal education[21] and were usually forced to stay at home.

During the Taliban’s five-year rule, women in Afghanistan were essentially put under house arrest, and often forced to paint their windows over so that no one could see in or out.[34] Some women who once held respectable positions were forced to wander the streets in their burqas, selling everything they owned or begging in order to survive. The United Nations refused to recognize the Taliban government, with the United States imposing heavy sanctions, leading to extreme economic hardship.

Because most teachers had been women before the Taliban regime, the new restrictions on women’s employment created a huge lack of teachers, which put an immense strain on the education of both boys and girls. Although women were banned from most jobs, including teaching, some women in the medical field were allowed to continue working.[34] This is because the Taliban required that women could be treated only by female physicians.[21]

Several Taliban and Al-Qaeda commanders engaged in human trafficking, abducting women and selling them into forced prostitution and slavery in Pakistan.[48] Time Magazine writes: “The Taliban often argued that the brutal restrictions they placed on women were actually a way of revering and protecting the opposite sex. The behavior of the Taliban during the six years they expanded their rule in Afghanistan made a mockery of that claim.”[48]

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

A group of Afghan women visiting the Gardens of Babur in Kabul in 2013Sahraa Karimi was appointed the first female general director of Afghan Film in 2019.

In late 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, and a new government under Hamid Karzai was formed, which included women like in pre-1990s Afghanistan.[49] Under the new constitution of 2004, 27 percent of the 250 seats in the House of the People are reserved for women.[50]

In March 2012, President Karzai endorsed a “code of conduct” which was issued by the Ulema Council. Some of the rules state that “women should not travel without a male guardian and should not mingle with strange men in places such as schools, markets and offices.” Karzai said that the rules were in line with Islamic law and that the code of conduct was written in consultation with Afghan women’s group.”[51] Rights organizations and women activists said that by endorsing this code of conduct, Karzai was endangering “hard-won progress in women’s right since the Taliban fell from power in 2001”.[52]

The overall situation for Afghan women improved during the 2000s, particularly in major urban areas, but those living in rural parts of the country still faced many problems. In 2013, a female Indian author Sushmita Banerjee was killed in Paktika province by militants for allegedly defying Taliban diktats. She was married to an Afghan businessman and had recently relocated to Afghanistan. Earlier she had escaped two instances of execution by the Taliban in 1995 and later fled to India. Her account of the escape became a Bollywood film, Escape from Taliban.[53]

A 2011 government report found that 25 percent of the women and girls diagnosed with obstetric fistula, a preventable childbirth injury in which prolonged labor creates a hole in the birth canal, were younger than 16 when they married.[54][55] In 2013, the United Nations published statistics showing a 20% increase in violence against women, often due to domestic violence being justified by conservative religion and culture. In February 2014, Afghanistan passed a law that includes a provision that limits the ability of government to compel some family members to be witnesses to domestic violence. Human Rights Watch described the implementation of the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women as “poor,” noting that some cases were ignored.

Under Afghan law, females across the country are permitted to drive vehicles.[56][57][58][59][60][61][62] They are also permitted to participate in certain international events such as Olympic Games and robot competitions.[63] Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch[64][65] and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom[66] have expressed concern at women’s rights in the country. Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security ranks Afghanistan as one of the worst countries for women.[67]

According to the new law signed by Ashraf Ghani president of Afghanistan, Afghan women were allowed to include their names on their children’s birth certificates and identification cards. This law served as a major victory for Afghan women’s rights activists, including Laleh Osmany, who campaigned under the social media hashtag #WhereIsMyName, for several years for both the parents’ names to be included.[68]

Second Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

A burqa-clad woman in Kabul in September 2021

In August 2021, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and the United States left the country, and the Taliban took control and established a new all-male government. The interim government has not been recognized internationally, since the international community linked recognition to respect for women’s and minority rights. [69] Despite repeated assurances by the Taliban that women’s rights would be respected, severe restrictions have been placed on their access to education and work. In some areas, the Taliban forced women to stop working altogether.[70] Education in lower grades resumed only in classes segregated by gender. In higher grades (7 through 12) and at the university level, classes for girls and women have been suspended. On 27 September, the new chancellor of Kabul University, Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat, announced that women were not allowed to return to university to either study or work. [71] The Taliban cited security concerns as the reason for these measures, however, did not specify under which conditions girls would be allowed to return to school. [72]

The new Taliban interim cabinet does not include any women as either ministers or deputy ministers. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been abolished. [73][74] The protests by women that followed these announcements, especially in Kabul, have been met with violence by the Taliban security forces. [75]

Violence against Afghan women

Further information: Murder of Farkhunda Malikzada

Many women in Afghanistan experience at least one form of abuse. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported that 90% of women in Afghanistan had experienced at least one form of domestic violence. Violence against women is widely tolerated by the community, and it is widely practiced in Afghanistan.[76] Violence against women in Afghanistan ranges from verbal abuse and psychological abuse to physical abuse and unlawful killing.

From infancy, girls and women are under the authority of their fathers or husbands.[76] Their freedom of movement is restricted since they are children and their choice of husbands is also restricted. Women and girls are deprived of education and denied economic liberty. In their pre-marriage and post-marriage relationships, their ability to assert their economic and social independence is limited by their families. Most married Afghan females are faced with the stark reality that they are forced to endure abuse.[76] If they try to extricate themselves from the situation of abuse, they invariably face social stigma, social isolation, persecution for leaving their homes by the authorities and honor killings by their relatives.[76]

Customs and traditions which are influenced by centuries-old patriarchal rules prevail, the issue of violence against women becomes pronounced. The high illiteracy rate among the population further perpetuates the problem. A number of women across Afghanistan believe that it is acceptable for their husbands to abuse them. Reversing this general acceptance of abuse was one of the main reasons behind the creation of the EVAW.[77]

In 2009, the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) was signed into law. The EVAW was created by multiple organizations which were assisted by prominent women’s rights activists in Kabul (namely UNIFEMRights & DemocracyAfghan Women’s Network, the Women’s Commission in the Parliament and the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs.[78]

In March 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old Afghan woman was publicly beaten and slain by an angry mob of radical Muslims in Kabul on a false accusation of Quran desecration.[79][80][81] A number of prominent public officials turned to Facebook immediately after the death to endorse the lynching.[82] It was later revealed that she did not burn the Quran.[83]

In 2018, Amnesty International reported that violence against women was perpetrated by both state and non-state actors.[84]

In April 2020, HRW reported that in Afghanistan, women with disabilities face all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment while they are accessing government assistance, health care and schools. The report also detailed everyday barriers which women and girls face in one of the world’s poorest countries.[85]

On 14 August 2020, Fawzia Koofi, a member of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team, was wounded in an assassination attempt near the capital, Kabul, while she was returning from a visit to the northern province of ParwanFawzia Koofi is a part of a 21-member team which is charged with representing the Afghan government in upcoming peace talks with the Taliban.[86]

A 33-year-old Afghan woman was attacked by three people while she was on her way from work to her home. She was shot and stabbed in her eyes with a knife. The woman survived the attack, but she lost her eyesight. Taliban denied allegations and said that the attack was carried out on her father’s order, as he vehemently opposed her working outside of home.[87]

Honor killings

See also: Honor killing § Afghanistan

In 2012, Afghanistan recorded 240 cases in which women were the victims of honor killings. Of the reported honor killings, 21% of them were committed by the victims’ husbands, 7% of them were committed by their brothers, 4% of them were committed by their fathers, and the rest of them were committed by other relatives of the victims.[88]

In May 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan concluded that the vast majority of the perpetrators of honor killings were not punished.[89]

On 12 July 2021, a woman in Faryab Province was beaten to death by Taliban militants and her house was set alight.[90]

In Balkh Province in August 2021, Taliban militants killed an Afghan woman because she was wearing tight clothing and because she was not being accompanied by a male relative.[

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