Afghan women fighting for lost freedom, a year after Taliban withdrawal

Afghan women fighting for lost freedom, a year after Taliban withdrawal

All Afghan women require a male guardian if they travel more than 78 km.

Kabul:

Monesa Mubarez is not going to give up the rights she and other Afghan women easily enjoyed during 20 years of Western-backed rule.

Before the radical Islamic Taliban movement came back to power a year ago, the 31-year-old served as director of policy monitoring at the Ministry of Finance.

She was one of many women, mostly in large cities, who achieved independence that a former generation had not dreamed of under the previous Taliban regime in the late 1990s.

Mubarez now has no job, as the Taliban severely limited women’s ability to work due to its strict interpretation of Islamic law, allowing them to build conservative and closed secondary schools for girls across the country and work was required.

Under the new government, there are no women in the cabinet and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was closed.

Mubarez, one of the most prominent campaigners in the capital, Kabul, said: “A war has ended, but the fight to find a rightful place for Afghan women has begun… We will raise our voices against every injustice until our last breath.”

Despite the risk of being beaten and detained by Taliban members patrolling the streets in the weeks following the toppling of the Western-backed government, she participated in a number of protests determined to defend her staunch rights .

Those performances are over – Mubarez last participated on May 10.

But she and others meet in homes in private acts of defiance, discussing women’s rights and encouraging people to join the cause. The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, such gatherings would have been almost unthinkable.

During one such meeting at their home in July, Mubarez and a group of women sat in a circle on the floor talking about their experiences and uttering words including “food”, “work” and “freedom”. as if they were outside. Rally.

“We fight for our freedom, we fight for our rights and status, we do not work for any country, organization or spy agency. This is our country, this is our motherland, and we have the full right to be here.” have the right.” ,

UN Women’s representative in Afghanistan Alison Davidian said stories like Mubarez are being repeated across the country.

“For many women around the world, walking out the front door of their home is a normal part of life,” she said. “For many Afghan women, this is extraordinary. It is an act of defiance.”

While the rules on the behavior of women in public are not always clear, in relatively liberal urban centers such as Kabul they often travel without male patrons. It is less common in more conservative areas, mainly in the south and east.

All females require a male guardian when they travel more than 78 km (48 mi).

sticking point

The Taliban’s treatment of girls and women is one of the main reasons why the international community refused to recognize Afghanistan’s new rulers, cut billions of dollars in aid and exacerbated an economic crisis.

Senior officials from several ministries said policies regarding women are set by top leaders and declined to comment further. The Taliban leadership has said that the rights of all Afghans will be protected under the interpretation of Sharia.

Rights groups and foreign governments have also blamed the group for abuses and the deaths of thousands of civilians while fighting insurgency against US-led foreign troops and Afghan forces between 2001 and 2021.

The Taliban said they were opposed to foreign occupation, and vowed not to pursue retaliation against former enemies since returning to power. In cases where retaliation was reported, officials said last year they would investigate.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are banned from attending high school.

In March, the group announced that women’s secondary schools would reopen, only to reverse its decision the same morning that many girls were excited for school.

Some have managed to enroll for private tutorials or online classes to continue their education.

“We are hopeful about the reopening of schools,” said 16-year-old Kerishma Rashidi, who started private tutoring as a temporary measure. She wants to leave the country with her parents so that she can return to school when she is locked up in Afghanistan.

“I will never give up studies,” Rashidi said. She moved with her family from the northeastern province of Kunduz to Kabul after a rocket hit their home during the conflict in 2020.

The international community continues to advocate for women’s rights and leadership roles for women in public and political life. Some women said that they had to accept the new norms to meet their needs.

Gulestan Safari, a former female police officer, was forced to change her career after being barred from entering the police department by the Taliban.

Safari, 45, now does household chores for other families in Kabul.

“I loved my job … we could buy whatever we wanted; we could buy meat, fruit.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Indian Lekhak

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