Afghan Women Under the Taliban
the Taliban militia took power in Afghanistan in 1996, they
immediately targeted women's rights as a first priority, citing
medieval Sharia (Islamic law) as their authority. Women's
public life came abruptly to an end; they were brutally forced
into silence and invisibility.
women the world over pressed the United Nations and their
own governments to free Afghan women by stopping the flow
of arms and of economic and political support for the Taliban,
women's rights and lives were sacrificed to the geopolitical
needs of male and corporate power. Among the many restrictions
the Taliban put in place and violently enforce in their determination
to enslave women, Afghan women:
Cannot appear in public unless dressed in a Burqa, a shapeless
bag that covers them from head to toe, making them virtually
invisible. Women have been publicly whipped or stoned for accidentally
revealing an ankle.
Are forbidden to work outside the home.
Are banned from studying in schools or universities.
Cannot appear in public or ride in a taxi unless accompanied
by a close male relative; must travel on "women only" public
buses; cannot ride bicycles or motorcycles.
Are forbidden to deal with male shopkeepers or talk or shake
hands with men outside their families.
Are banned from public celebrations or from appearing on radio
Are not allowed to gather for any recreational purposes.
Are forbidden to laugh or talk loudly. (No stranger should hear
a woman's voice.)
Cannot wear brightly colored clothes.
Are prohibited from practicing family planning.
Cannot be treated by male doctors. As most female medical providers
are internationals who are currently fleeing the country, women
injured in the U.S. attack on Afghanistan have virtually no
access to health care.
Cannot be operated upon by a surgical team containing a male
Cannot appear on the balconies of their apartments or houses.
Windows must be painted on houses so that women cannot be seen
Cannot be photographed or filmed. Women's pictures are banned
from newspapers and books, and cannot be hung on the walls of
houses and shops.
Are publicly stoned and sometimes executed if accused of having
sex outside of marriage.
Are banned from playing sports or entering a sport center or
Have no legal recourse. A woman cannot petition the court directly;
her testimony is worth half a man's testimony.
Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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