Though the Taliban have publicly announced that women will still have rights, however, they did not clarify what rights mean in their context.
Life for women living even in a western and developed country like the UK is not always easy just because they are women. This is not to say men don’t face gender inequality that affects their life too. However, when this issue is taken to a country like Afghanistan, the issue of gender inequality between men and women becomes more profound. This is as a result of the culture that the Taliban had left behind from the years they ruled Afghanistan between 1966 and 2001 in addition to other external groups, who ruled the country. Moving on, to this already vulnerable situation where women rights are already a fragile topic the Taliban, who don’t see women as fully human, come to completely jeopardise their rights. Leaving little to no hope for the future of women.
Afghanistan was one of the countries, which recognised the rights of women from the early 1900s. However, after external participation in the country, progress for Afghanistan has been extremely rare. Though the US and other countries had returned to Afghanistan to bring back what Afghanistan had before all these external envisions, they had made some progress for women. Women started going to school again, pursuing successful careers and building a foundation for themselves.
Under Taliban rule, women have been ordered to dress a specific way. Now… how is forcing someone to dress under your definition of ‘modest’ give them any rights? Women have been told – in some regions – they must not leave home without male company. Taking someone’s independence… how is that giving them any rights? In some regions, women had been told they are only allowed education up till high school. How is that giving them rights? We might think the Taliban are contradicting themselves with their definition of ‘rights’ however under their perspective these are the exact rights women should have.
Life for men isn’t any better. In the past, they had been forced to grow beards, dress a certain way and mandatory attend mosque. Controlling one’s life with your opinions is not giving them rights. There is a clear line between an opinion and a misinformed opinion. The Taliban have manufactured their rules in the name of Islam without any real education of Islam. Cheery picking verses and misinterpreting them for their selfish needs, in order to ensure the country doesn’t make progress, does not secure justice and rights for anyone.
It worries me to think about the future of Afghan women in particular. With so much potential and ambition to thrive, it’s immensely disheartening to see their opportunities and dreams being painfully snatched away in front of their eyes whilst they watch helplessly.
The role that women play in order to establish a successful society is pivotal. Dismissing, women’s contribution to the outer community and restricting them to only their home damages the progress of the country. A country can never be successful with half its population locked behind closed doors. In the history of Afghanistan and in recent years women had been commendably instrumental in their communities. They raised their opinions, made connections with other countries and established strong roles in many industries. However, all this hard work is now in peril. The sad truth is it was always a sensitive topic except now the hope for a brighter future has become even less optimistic.
Even before the Taliban life for women was never a walk in the park. Most women in Afghanistan have faced domestic violence at some point in their life. Most often it is by the men in their life. However, in many cases, other household women can be the ones initiating this brutality on each other. Solidary and empathy lacking within women themselves make this issue even harder to address.
Men believe using physical violence is in the best interest of women to ensure they do the ‘right’ thing. As women are seen as inferior to an extent, she needs a man to make all her life decisions for her – is the opinion of such men. Now the word ‘right’ is open to interpretation and everyone should be doing what is right to them, their experience and most importantly for them.
For the sake of argument, even if what the women decide for herself turns out wrong, then it is still her decision and her mistake. No one else should be forcefully interfering in what any individual decides for themselves: right or wrong. This same concept applies to the Taliban, who have taken it all upon themselves to ensure everyone is doing the ‘right’ thing under their misinformed Islamic rules. Under Taliban ruling, the pain and injustice towards women, in particular, will be shadowed and unfortunately lost even more.
I hope that the Taliban regime will fail once again. You can never make success in the long term if the people you are trying to rule feel unhappy and insecure. A more sustainable government must arise, which takes not the Taliban or western approach but only what the people of the country want. Only then can people live a happy and secure life.
Don’t forget about Afghanistan. Help these women be heard, help them gain the justice they have been denied for decades and help their stories be known. Help demolish this misogyny that prevails in the country.