Taliban takes the rights of Afghan women and girls hostage in a bid to gain international recognition of the regime

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Sarah, a 13-year-old girl, got ready and went to school on the morning of March 23 with joy and excitement along with other girls in her neighborhood. After a long eight-month hiatus, she expected today to meet her classmates, teachers and school and start new lessons. Contrary to her expectations, she was confronted by a closed gate of the school and dozens of Taliban police who were tasked with preventing the girls from entering the school. Sarah returned home with tears in her eyes and a world of despair.

Contrary to their promise and commitment to open the gates of girls’ schools on the 23rd of March, the Taliban, without prior notice, closed the sixth to twelfth grades of schools in a decree under the pretext of the girls’ lack of Islamic hijab. Sarah and millions of Afghan girls, despite wearing the proper hijab, still do not know why, like boys, they do not have the right to go to school and get an education? She does not know why the Taliban are preventing the opening of girls’ schools and how the monstrous Taliban rules over her fate?

However, Sarah and hundreds of other girls in Kabul did not sit silent. They took to the streets on March 24, despite the Taliban brutally suppressing all women’s protests over the past eight months, arresting, imprisoning, torturing, raping, and killing dozens of women and girls. They demanded the immediate reopening of all girls’ schools.

“The Spontaneous Movement of Protesting Women” for women’s rights and resistance to oppression and restrictions emerged in Kabul after the Taliban seized power in August 2021. It is at the forefront of the struggle and voice of women and all Afghans against the fascist and misogynistic Taliban Islamic regime. The movement, which includes free-thinking, secular, feminist and socialist women and girls, staged mass demonstrations in Kabul to protest the Taliban’s recent decision to ban girls from school. The movement called on people, especially families, to “express their opposition until their right to education and other rights are guaranteed to their children.” “We will not back down from demanding the basic rights of the people, especially the rights of women” and “The basic rights of women must be restored,” they urged. They chanted: “Start a new order, open schools now! We want education! Break the silence, raise your voice!”

Following the defeat of the United States in Afghanistan after twenty years of occupations, the United States decided to hand over power to the Taliban and implement its strategy in the region through the Taliban government in Afghanistan instead of the corrupt and incompetent government of Ashraf Ghani. To that end, they launched a campaign to introduce the Taliban as innocent through the media and their mercenaries. They argued that the mentality and practice of the Taliban had changed and that they were no longer the Taliban of the 1990s. They projected optimism that the Taliban would no longer restrict social freedoms, that they would not oppose women’s rights, that they would not oppose girls’ schools and education, that they would not hinder women’s work and presence in society, and that they would respect civil liberties and media freedoms.

Based on this approach, the United States and the Taliban finally signed a peace agreement in February 2020 in Doha. The Taliban took power in August 2021 after U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan. On the second day of their rule in Kabul, the Taliban imposed severe restrictions on women and closed the gates of all girls’ schools throughout Afghanistan.

In fact, the Taliban today are no different from the Taliban of the 1990s. Because of the strategic goals and interests of the United States and NATO in the region, it was their lie, hypocrisy and betrayal that once again allowed for the misogynistic and medieval Taliban to rule over the Afghan people. Today, the United States and NATO are partners in and responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe and oppression of Afghan women and girls by the Taliban.

The fact is that the hijab and clothes of girls in all past eras have been completely Islamic and in accordance with the customs and culture of Afghan societies. But with this pretext [of denying female education on the basis of dress], the Taliban have taken millions of Afghan women and girls hostage in order to extort concession from the so-called international community. By their misogynistic actions, they intend to pressure the “international community” to recognize the Taliban government and release nearly $10 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen assets. But the Taliban’s discriminatory treatment of women and girls cannot be resolved by recognizing their government and releasing frozen money. Because the Taliban’s thinking and approaches are based on Islamic law, which they interpret in their own way.

According to Islamic law, women do not have equal rights as men. Polygamy, marriage of underage girls, sexual apartheid, gender-based violence, and the low status of women in the family and society are rooted in Islamic texts and teachings. It is clear that the Taliban and patriarchal regimes fear that women and girls will become literate and aware. Because if girls become aware, they will demand equal rights and fight against captivity, polygamy, sexual apartheid, child marriage, gender-based discrimination and barbarism.

The Taliban believe that girls should not study more than sixth grade. Because they cause moral corruption! According to the Taliban, 9-, 10- and 12-year-old girls are adults and should be given to their husbands!

Therefore, the Taliban know that if women become literate and knowledgeable, then they will not want to be confined within the home. They will want to work outside the home and earn money, because women can be freed from the bondage of men by gaining financial independence and fighting for equal rights and freedoms.

The Taliban may be able to block girls’ education for months or years under various pretexts, or make Afghanistan’s curriculum religious and unscientific, but given the level of awareness and awakening of women, especially in cities, there is a strong potential for resistance and struggle to challenge and overthrow the misogynistic and medieval tyranny of the Taliban or any religious and non-democratic system.

The people of Afghanistan have no hope of help from the so-called international community in the face of the economic crisis and the catastrophic violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan, but hold them responsible for this horrible situation. The people of Afghanistan rely only on the progressive forces of the left, democratic, secular and the “Spontaneous Movement of Protesting Women,” which, with the solidarity of workers and women in other parts of the world, can pave the way towards a society free of oppression, exploitation, and gender-based discrimination, with equal rights for women.

Statement by Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA)
April 2022