On August 15, 2021, Kabul and its government fell under the weight of the Taliban. For two years, the new regime flouted women’s rights, gradually erasing them from public life.
The Taliban in jubilation, the rights of women in mourning. This Tuesday in Afghanistan, a public holiday, the Taliban government proudly celebrated the second anniversary of its takeover of the country.
The white and black flags of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name given to the country by its new rulers, flew at security checkpoints in the capital Kabul, which fell on August 15, 2021. The government, backed by the United States collapsed, and its leaders went into exile.
The quiet streets of the capital have been invaded by supporters of the new regime. No women were present. Some men were smiling and taking selfies as chants of “Glory be to Allah” rang out.
American-made military vehicles, abandoned by international forces after their chaotic withdrawal from the country, paraded past the half-open doors of the former US Embassy.
“The End of the Occupation”
“The conquest of Kabul has proven once again that no one can control the proud Afghan nation and that no invader will be allowed to threaten the country’s independence and freedom,” the Taliban government said in a statement. is not recognized by the international community.
“Death to Europeans! Death to Westerners! Long live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan! Death to Americans!” Chanted this Tuesday morning about fifty Taliban defenders in the streets of Herat.
“There is a lot of hope and happiness,” said Adil Ghaznawi, 22, interviewed by our colleagues from AFP, assuring that “the corruption” that had plagued the previous government and institutions had disappeared.
Other men point to improved security. “Before, it was war, now it’s calm,” rejoices Rahatullah Azizi, 35.
“Today is a happy day”, “it is the date of the end of the occupation of our country”, also rejoiced Mortaza Khairi, 21, a medical student in Kabul. Studies now prohibited for girls.
Women’s freedoms trampled
Over the past two years, the Taliban authorities have imposed their austere interpretation of Islam and multiplied measures against women, who are excluded from public space. And this, despite their promise in 2021, during their first press conference, to allow women to be “active” in society, and therefore “to study and work”.
These promises were shattered the following month: secondary schools reopened to boys, not girls. The same week, the mayor of Kabul ordered female employees of the city’s administration to stay at home, the BBC notes. Only those who performed tasks that could not be entrusted to men were allowed to continue their work.
Then, the annihilation of their right was carried out step by step. In December 2021, the government’s Ministry of Virtue and Vice ordered that women traveling more than 70 km be accompanied by a close male relative.
In May 2022, a decree approved by the Taliban’s Supreme Leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, ordered women to cover themselves from head to toe with a full veil “to avoid any provocation when they encounter a man”.
In the streets, the long, colorful tunics and jeans that accompanied the hijab have largely been replaced by abayas, long black dresses or burkas. Some wear a surgical mask to cover their faces. Women are also quite simply less likely to walk around town.
Then parks, gymnasiums, swimming pools, public baths were forbidden to them. In December 2022, universities, so far spared, were required to suspend their teaching to women.
Last draconian measure to date at the beginning of July: the closure of beauty salons, the only space where they could meet away from the surveillance of the Taliban and source of many jobs.
Result: early marriages are on the increase and more and more women, deprived of income to feed their families, beg for help in the street. Others defy the restrictions, risking violent reprisals, by holding clandestine schools for example or by protesting in the streets. Demonstrations are severely suppressed.
As this anniversary celebrated by the Taliban approaches, small groups of women have nevertheless organized rare and brief demonstrations against the regime, their faces covered with masks.
Friction with the international community
If the measures taken against women seem to divide within the Taliban regime itself, they also constitute a major obstacle in negotiations with the international community. In particular on the recognition of their regime and the help it could provide.
A group of UN experts denounced on Monday the broken promises made by the Taliban authorities to establish a more flexible regime than the one they had put in place during their first passage in power, from 1996 to 2001. .
“Despite assurances from the de facto Taliban authorities that any restrictions, particularly in terms of access to education, would be temporary, the facts on the ground have demonstrated the existence of an expedited, systematic and comprehensive system of segregation, marginalization and persecution,” the experts pointed out.
France, for its part, said in a press release on Tuesday that it intended to increase pressure on the Taliban to improve the lot of the inhabitants of this country, in particular that of women.
While local and international NGOs operating in the country were asked in late December to thank their staff, Human Rights Watch urged donor countries to “find ways to alleviate the current humanitarian crisis without increasing the Taliban’s repressive policies against women”.
Source: BFM TV