What will happen to Afghan women now after Taliban took control of Kabul?
The Taliban were infamous for their violence and misogyny against women while they were in power in Afghanistan. According to reports, they wanted to create a secure environment in which the dignity and innocence of women could once again be holy. Pashtunwali beliefs reportedly inspired it about living with purdah. There are many concerns now that the Taliban have seized large parts of Afghanistan.
After the government collapsed, the Taliban invaded Afghanistan’s capital on Sunday. A mass exodus of foreigners accompanied the departure of his fellow citizens. It marked the end of a two-decade-long U.S. effort to rebuild the country. What happens to Afghan women after the Taliban take control of Kabul?
Many Taliban fighters were seen in the capital, and many entered Kabul’s former presidential palace. According to Suhail Shaheen (a Taliban spokesman, negotiator), the militants will hold talks over the next few days to form an “open, inclusive Islamic state.”
A Taliban official stated earlier that the group would announce the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the palace. It was the name of the country before Taliban rule. It was also the name of the country when it was under Taliban control. That plan was put on hold.
Panic in the country
Kabul was engulfed in panic. Throughout the day, helicopters flew overhead to evacuate Americans stationed at the Embassy. As staff destroyed essential documents and threw away other items, smoke rose around the compound. The American flag was then lowered. Other Western missions were also ready to evacuate their personnel.
Fearful that the Taliban would impose the same brutal rule that virtually eliminated women’s rights, Afghans fled the country and flocked to cash machines to withdraw their savings. The desperately poor — who had left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the capital — remained in parks and open spaces throughout the city.
Despite the Taliban promising a peaceful transition, U.S. Embassy stopped operations and advised Americans to stay put and not attempt to reach the airport.
According to two U.S. military officers, commercial flights were stopped after sporadic gunfire at Kabul’s airport. Evacuations continued on military aviation, but the halt to commercial traffic closed off one of the last routes available for fleeing Afghans.
Numerous nations urged all parties to respect Afghans and foreigners who want to leave and facilitate their departure.
The joint statement was distributed late Sunday night by the U.S. State Department and included more than 60 countries. According to the information, those in power and authority in Afghanistan “bear responsibility and accountability for the protection and restoration of security and civil law.”
The nations also stated that roads, airports, and border crossings must remain accessible and that calm must be maintained.
The Afghan president fled, and the government collapsed. The U.S. military raced for diplomats and civilians to run the panicked capital.
Here are the facts:
- The Taliban take Kabul after the Afghan government collapses. The president then flees.
- Kabul is shaken by fear and confusion as the Taliban infiltrate and the government collapses.
- Kabul airport chaos reigns as Evacuation fails from Kabul
- Washington protests against the victory of Taliban in Afghanistan by Afghan Americans
- Critics claim that the U.S. isn’t moving Afghan allies fast enough to avoid reprisals.
- Afghan women and children are worried about their future now
History of Afghan during Taliban rule
Afghanistan’s women were required to wear the burqa in public because it was considered a source of corruption by men. Women were denied the right to work and were forbidden to learn after eight years of age. They were also not permitted to read the Qur’an, which was sometimes called gender apartheid.
Underground schools were a place where women seeking education had to go. Teachers and students could be executed if they were caught. Male doctors were forbidden to treat them unless a male chaperone accompanied them. That led to many illnesses being left untreated. For violating the Taliban’s laws, they were subject to public flogging and execution. In some cases, the Taliban encouraged and allowed girls as young as 16 to marry. Amnesty International reported, however, that almost 80% of Afghan marriages were forced.
Women and girls have been left most vulnerable by the Taliban’s rapid advance through Afghanistan. They stand to lose the hard-won gains they have made as the Taliban take control of Kabul.
Potential Outcomes for Afghan Women after Taliban took over Afghanistan
Women and girls are at most significant risk as the Taliban make their dramatic sweep through Afghanistan. They will be swarming into Kabul, the capital they fled two decades ago.
Afghan women were targeted because they spoke out against Taliban attacks or held positions of authority.
The UN reported that civilian deaths have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2021. More children and women were killed or wounded in Afghanistan than any other year since 2009 records began.
Most targeted killings in Afghanistan have been blamed on the Taliban. They deny that they carried out assassinations.
Many fear that the Islamist insurgents will enter the capital and overthrow the rights of women.
A spokesperson for the Afghan government told Reuters that “the Taliban will regress freedom on all levels” and added that they are fighting against it.
“Women, children, and other vulnerable groups are the ones we are trying to save democracy. We need the world to understand us and support us.”
“Our world collapsing.”
As the capital falls to Islamist insurgents, those who pleaded for help may be ignored. Many reports claim that the Taliban went door-to-door to create lists of girls and women between 12 and 45 who are forced to marry Islamist fighters. Women are told that they can’t leave their home without a male escort and cannot work, study or choose the clothes they like. Schools are also being shut down.
There is much at stake for many Afghan women who have entered public life, including journalists, politicians, local governors and doctors, nurses, teachers, public administrators, and teachers. They worked alongside men and in communities that were not used to women in authority to build a democracy. But they also wanted to create opportunities for women to succeed.
Zahra, 26, fears that her education and ambitions will be ruined. Thursday night, she witnessed the Taliban invaded Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, and raised white flags with an Islamic declaration.
Other educated Afghan women are using social media to seek help and vent their frustrations.
Rada Akbar, an Afghan photographer, wrote on Twitter: “With every city falling, human bodies collapse. Dreams collapse. History and future collapse. Art and culture collapse. Life and beauty collapse. Our world collapse.”
Policies about gender
Girls in Afghanistan weren’t allowed to have direct contact with other males than their “blood relatives,” husband, or in law, starting at age eight. (see mahram). There were also restrictions on women’s contact with men:
Women shouldn’t be seen on the streets without their families or wearing a burqa.
High-heeled shoes are not appropriate for women, as men should not hear the footsteps of women.
Public speaking by women is not allowed. No one should hear the woman’s voice.
To prevent women from seeing the street from the ground- and first-floor windows, it is essential to paint them or screen them.
It was forbidden to photograph, film, or display pictures of females in books, newspapers, shops, or at home.
Modification of place names that include the word “women” The term “women’s garden” was changed to “spring garden,” for example.
It was forbidden for women to be on balconies in their houses or apartments.
Women are prohibited from being on television, radio, or in public gatherings.
Taliban rules regarding public conduct placed restrictions on women’s freedom to move. They made it difficult for those who couldn’t afford a burqa or didn’t have a mahram. These women were placed under virtual house arrest. The Taliban severely beat one woman because she walked alone on the streets. She stated that her father had been killed in battle. How can I live if I cannot go out on my own?
Terre des Hommes field worker witnessed the effect on female mobility at Kabul’s largest state-run orphanage Taskia Maskan. The 400 girls who lived at the institution, which had around 400 girls, were kept inside the institution for one year after the female staff was removed from their duties. They were not allowed to go outside for recreation.
Decrees that impacted women’s mobility were:
Women riding bikes or motorcycles with their mahrams are not allowed.
It was forbidden for women to ride in taxis without a mahram.
Introduced segregated bus services to stop males and women from sharing the same bus.
Rural women’s lives were not as affected because they lived insecure families. They needed a certain level of freedom to continue their work or chores. These women would have been subject to the same restrictions if they had traveled to another town.
Employment of women in Afghanistan under Taliban
Taliban opposed past Afghan statutes that permitted Afghan women to work in mixed-sex workplaces. That was claimed to be a violation of purdah or sharia law. The Taliban declared that all women should be barred from employment on September 30, 1996. The Taliban decreed that all women should be banned from government employment at 25%. It was compounded with losses in other sectors, and many thousands of women were also affected.
The loss of the women who were employed was another. In Kabul, where almost all elementary school teachers were female, elementary education was stopped for all children. After the 1996 Taliban takeover of Kabul, thousands fled Kabul to Pakistan.
Taliban Supreme Leader Mohammed Omar promised female civil servants, teachers, and teachers that they would continue to receive wages of approximately US$5 per month. However, this was a temporary offer.  A Taliban representative said that the Taliban’s offer to pay monthly salaries to 30,000 women who have no job is a whiplash against those who denigrate the Taliban and refer to the rights to women. These people are using baseless propaganda to incite Kabul women against the Taliban.
To ensure that women do not have to work, the Taliban advocated using extended families or the zakat system. Despite years of conflict, nuclear families often struggled financially to provide for their own needs and help other relatives. For example, food aid that needed to be collected by a male relative had to be managed by a man for a woman to qualify for legislation. Mullah Ghaus (acting foreign minister) dismissed that a woman might not have any living male relatives. He said he was shocked at the international attention and concern for such a small portion of Afghanistan’s population.
Although the ban on employment exempted female health professionals, they still had to work in minimal circumstances. Some women quit their jobs due to the difficulty of getting to work by bus and harassment. Many of those who survived were afraid of the Taliban and chose to stay at the hospital during workweeks to avoid being exposed to the Taliban forces. These women were crucial to the continuation of ante-natal, gynecological and midwifery services at a high-compensated level. There were approximately 200 female staff members working at Kabul’s Mullalai Hospital under the Rabbani regime. However, only 50 of these women remained under Taliban control. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, NGOs in Afghanistan found that the lack of female health professionals was a significant obstacle to their work.
Another exception to the ban on employment allowed humanitarian workers to be rehired at a lower rate. Women were essential for accessing vulnerable women and conducting outreach research under the Taliban segregation codes. The entire Taliban movement did not approve the exception so that each situation would have its instances of female participation. Because Herat had been one the most cosmopolitan, outward-looking parts of Afghanistan before 1995, it was significantly affected by Taliban changes to women’s treatment. Taliban authorities stopped women from being allowed to work in limited jobs previously. Mullah Razzaq was appointed Herat’s governor. He forbade women from passing his office due to their distracting nature.
Education of women under Taliban rule
While the Taliban claimed they recognized their Islamic obligation to provide education for both boys and girls, a decree was passed banning girls over eight years old from receiving education. Maulvi Kalamadin claimed that it was a temporary suspension. Females would return to school or work once street security and facilities are improved to prevent cross-gender contact. Taliban wanted total control over Afghanistan and called upon an Ulema to decide the content of a new curriculum that would replace the Islamic but unacceptable Mujahadin version.
The education system was greatly affected by the ban on female employment. The ruling had a profound impact on Kabul, where it involved 106,256 girls and 148,223 men students. It also affected 8,000 female undergraduates at universities. The dismissal of 7,793 female teachers caused severe disruption to education provision. It forced 63 schools to close because of a lack of teachers. Many women operated clandestine schools in their own homes, either for children from the local area or women enrolled in sewing classes such as the Golden Needle Sewing School. While the parents, educators, and learners were all aware of the potential consequences if the Taliban discovered their activities, these actions provided a way for people who felt trapped by the Taliban to feel self-determination and hope.
Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, male doctors were allowed to see women in hospitals. However, the Taliban soon introduced a decree that no male doctor should touch a woman’s body under the pretext of consultation. As fewer female health professionals were employed, women had to travel further for care. The provision of antenatal clinics decreased.
Some Kabul women set up informal clinics at home to serve their families and neighbors. However, it was difficult to get medical supplies, so their effectiveness was limited. Because of the lack of medical supplies, many women suffered prolonged suffering and died prematurely. Medical attention in Pakistan could be available for those with the financial means and the inclination to pay.
Women were prohibited from using the traditional hammam and public baths in October 1996 because they were considered un-Islamic. The baths were a vital facility in a country without running water. This ban led to the UN predicting a rise of scabies among women who had no access to hygiene and health care. Afghan-American author Nasrine Gross stated that in 2001, it had been four years since Afghan women were able to pray to God. “Islam prohibits women praying without taking a bath after having their periods.” The Taliban made it illegal for women to visit the capital’s general hospitals. Women had previously been allowed to go to a women-only ward. They could only access treatment at one Kabul hospital.
Mental stress, depression, and isolation often accompany forced confinement of women can have a devastating effect on family harmony. A Survey of 160 women revealed that 97 percent had signs of severe depression. In contrast, 71 percent experienced a decline in physical well-being. Latifa, a Kabul resident, and author wrote:
It is reminiscent of prison or hospital. All of us feel heavy in silence. We don’t have much to share since we can’t do much. We are all unable to share our emotions, so we isolate ourselves from our fear and distress. Because everyone is in the same pit, it’s pointless repeating what we don’t see.
The Taliban shut down beauty salons in the country. The Taliban banned cosmetics like nail varnish and makeup.
There were many areas where Taliban restrictions on women’s cultural presence included. The word “women” was removed from place names that had the phrase. It was forbidden for women to laugh loudly because it was inappropriate for strangers to hear a woman’s voice. It was forbidden for women to participate in sports or join a club. These issues were addressed by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Meena Keshwar kamal founded it. She was a woman who established a bilingual magazine, Women’s Message, in 1981. At the age of 30, she was assassinated, but Afghan women still revered her as a heroine.
Public executions were common including women, whether in formal spectacles at sports stadiums or town squares or spontaneous street beatings. As there was no mercy, civilians lived in constant fear. Women caught breaking orders were often subject to extreme violence. Here are some examples:
A woman was caught wearing nail varnish in October 1996 and had her tip removed.
Radio Shari’a reported in December 1996 that 225 Kabuli women were being held and punished for violating the sharia code. A tribunal handed down the sentence, and the women were lashed on both their legs and their backs for their crimes.
Five female CARE International employees were forced to leave their vehicles by religious police members in May 1997 after receiving authorization from the Ministry of the Interior for emergency feeding program research. To harass and insult the women, guards used the public address to force them from their vehicle by religious police members. They then struck them with a metal- and leather whip measuring 1.5m (almost 5ft) in length.
Let us all pray for Afghan Women now.