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Women Protest for Basic Rights in Afghanistan in Face of Taliban Takeover

Despite promises of restraint, Afghan women are wary of the violent insurgents who took over Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops

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Women’s groups have taken to the streets of the Afghan capital of Kabul to demand that their rights, most of them won over the past 20 years, be respected by the Taliban who have taken control of Afghanistan.

En un video compartido por el corresponsal de Al Jazeera, Hameed Mohammad Shah, cuatro In a video shared by Al Jazeera correspondent Hameed Mohammad Shah, four women hold signs and shout chants in the streets of Kabul. The camera pans to show a man with a rifle walking near the women, as well as other armed men standing in the back of a pickup truck.

Another video shows women walking down a street, loudly shouting their desire to work, educate themselves and participate in politics. “No force can ignore and suffocate women,” Shah reports alongside the video.

Meanwhile, Afghan women refugees in Iran also took to the streets to demand that women’s rights in Afghanistan be respected by the reinstated Taliban regime in Kabul.

In another footage released by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, an Afghan woman is seen being arrested by authorities in Iran for demanding freedom for her compatriots and protesting against the Taliban. “The Taliban ruined my homeland,” the woman shouted amid tears and screams of despair.

“We are against the mentality of Taliban both in Iran and in Afghanistan. We, the nations of Iran and Afghanistan, suffer from radicals in power,” Alinejad wrote.

Meanwhile, a woman who arrived in India after fleeing Kabul on Sunday night told reporters, “I can’t believe the world abandoned #Afghanistan. Our friends are going to get killed. They [Taliban] are going to kill us. Our women are not going to have any more rights.”

Afghan women’s panic and desperation

Now that Afghanistan has fallen back into the hands of the Taliban, Afghan women journalists are bracing for retaliation from Islamic fundamentalists, The Guardian reported.

“In the last 24 hours, our lives have changed and we have been confined to our homes, while death threatens us at every turn,” said an unnamed female reporter. She further asserted, “We see a silence filled with fear of the Taliban surrounding us.”

When the Taliban took over Kabul, several posters of women were covered by painting them black. In early July, hundreds of women in Afghanistan staged an armed protest and shouted chants against the Taliban in northern and central Afghanistan.

Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating for girls’ education, wrote in the New York Times that she “fears for her Afghan sisters.”

In her text, Yousafzai recalled how the Taliban banned girls from receiving an education after invading her hometown in Pakistan in 2007, and then tried to assassinate her for speaking out about her right to go to school when she was 15.

“Afghan girls and young women are once again where I have been: despairing at the thought of never again being allowed to see a classroom or hold a book,” Yousafzai wrote.

The young activist, now based in London, said what she heard from education advocates in Afghanistan over the past two weeks is disturbing.

“One woman who runs schools for rural children told me she had lost contact with her teachers and students,” she continued.

A member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Enamullah Samangani, appeared on Afghan state television (now in the hands of the insurgents) to announce a “blanket amnesty” for previous government officials, opponents of the Taliban regime and women. For his part, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reiterated the intentions of the new regime, a friend of the great enemies of the West, to “respect the rights of women” according to the rules of Islam.

The Taliban encouraged Afghan women to participate in their government since the “Islamic Emirate does not want women to be victims” and they “must be in the structure of the government” according to the Sharia.

“Within the framework of Islamic law and respecting national and Afghan values, we are ready to prepare the conditions for the return of women to studies, work and all human activities,” Samangani added.

Despite promises of moderation, Afghan women are wary of the violent insurgents who took over Afghanistan after the catastrophic withdrawal of American troops. They fear a return to the severe restrictions on their rights, such as stoning, amputations and public executions, imposed by the Taliban in the past.

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