Afghan women fear the return of Taliban oppression

Woman wearing a burqa while voting in Kabul, Afghanistan Woman wearing a burqa while voting in Kabul, Afghanistan Photo by stefanofiorentino on iStock

21 September 2021

The Taliban contradicted their commitment to upholding the rights of women and girls soon after seizing power in Afghanistan.

A few days after the Taliban took control of Kabul on 15 August 2021, Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, declared that they “are going to allow women to work and study,” underlining that women and girls would continue to have an active role in the new society. 

However, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently raised awareness of womens rights' violations in Afghanistan. Women and girls have been progressively excluded from the public life: First, they were prohibited from going to work or simply walking in the street without a male relative; later, girls over 12 were banned from schools while universities were gender-separated and female students not allowed to be taught by male professors, the majority of the academics. Furthermore, “The Ministry that once promoted women' rights has been disbanded, and its premises taken over by a Ministry for the propagation of Virtue and the prevention of Vice – an all-male office that will apply guidelines on appropriate dress and behaviour,” the High Commissioner said.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), stressed the importance of equal rights for both male and female Afghan children. At the same time, Afghan rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh pleaded with the UN General Assembly to not recognize the Taliban and avoid invalidating 20 years of achievements for Afghan women. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres suggested using the Taliban’s desire for international recognition as leverage to promote respect for human rights, in particular women and girls’ rights.




 Author: Melissa Viselli; Editor: Andrew Goodell

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