Afghan women are beginning to defy the Taliban, fearing a return to the restrictions of their previous regime, with public protests to demand that the insurgents include them in the government that is about to be formed or demand their right to continue working.
There are increasing images of Afghan women raising banners and raising anti-Taliban slogans across the country, a symbol of the resistance of journalists, activists, and women workers who oppose a return to that dark era of repression.
A group of female government office workers and activists took to the streets of Kabul to call for Taliban movement roles in the new administration, as well as keeping their jobs in state offices, the Afghan Tolo channel reported today.
“The people, the government and any officials who are going to form a state in the future cannot ignore the women of Afghanistan. We will not give up our right to education, the right to work and our right to political and social participation,” activist Fariha Esar told the TV channel.
The demonstrations have been small, but are gaining strength as the days go by, reminding many of the Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001, when women could not work or go to school, and were confined inside their homes.
However, the Taliban have now insistently assured that women will be able to continue their lifestyles as before, returning to schools or their jobs within the limits set by Islam, but some women workers, especially journalists, complain that in practice this is not being fulfilled.
“I wanted to go back to work, but unfortunately (the Taliban) did not let me. They told me that the regime has changed and you can’t work,” said TV presenter Shabnam Dawran in a video widely broadcast today, a complaint that contrasts with the image from last Tuesday, two days after the takeover of Kabul, of a Tolo presenter interviewing a Taliban.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ South Asia coordinator, Steven Butler, condemned the moves to “strip prominent female news anchors from public media, (which) is an ominous sign that the Taliban in Afghanistan have no intention of keeping their promise to respect women’s rights,” the organization said.
The Taliban are also remembered for imposing a harsh regime in which women were only allowed to leave the house in the company of a male family member or imposing the wearing of the burqa, a situation that improved with the fall of the insurgent regime in 2001 and which many now fear will be repeated.