Afghanistan Womens Rights

The Taliban Misuses Religion And Culture To Promote Their Ideology

Jan Chipchase, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED

The Taliban has launched attacks against women and girls by using religion and culture to promote their ideology of suppressing women and girls. By altering meanings and conservatively interpreting Islam and Afghanistan’s culture, they have created a severe case of gender apartheid in Afghanistan. 

Recently, in a public engagement, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister of Afghanistan, said that “Those who are making useless propaganda and think that this government is not inclusive, they are not aware of the culture and tradition of Afghanistan.” 

Haqqani’s justification is tremendously incorrect – Afghan culture and tradition does not exclude women. During the past 20 years of development from 2001-2021, Afghan women redefined and regained their status in society. Afghan women demonstrated that they are not the timid wives who only like to stay at home and do house chores. Instead they demonstrated that they are leaders and changemakers who defied norms and redefined Afghan women’s status as strong, independent, and actively involved in all aspects of life. 

Just before Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban in August 2021, women comprised 6.5% of ministerial positions in the government. Women served in the government, they served as doctors and midwives, they served as journalists, and more. However, now that the Taliban has taken power, there are 0 women holding positions in the government, female journalists are under restrictions only because of their gender and cannot interview male government officials or cannot attend press conferences without a male chaperone, and female doctors cannot practice without a male chaperone either. 

It is clear that Afghan culture and tradition are not the factors that created an exclusive environment for women. It is the Taliban’s manipulation and misinterpretation of Afghan culture and traditions that has led to women being excluded from the social sphere, political participation, education sectors, and the job market. 

The Taliban misuse Islam as a justification for gender apartheid and restrict women through strict interpretations where they claim that “bad hijab” “violates Islamic values and rituals.” Women are unjustly being arrested and taken by force to locations where they “are held in overcrowded spaces in police stations, received only one meal a day, with some being subjected to physical violence, threats and intimidation.” This is just another example that demonstrates how women are being discriminated against and their rights are being violated because of how the Taliban manipulates religion as a justification to mistreat and violate women. 

Recognizing gender apartheid that the Taliban has imposed is an incredibly crucial step in reversing the restrictions and violations against Afghan women’s rights. Gender apartheid must be lifted and removed to achieve equality against women and men in Afghanistan and allow women to be part of all aspects of public life. 


Tolonews, CNN, VOA, Feminist Majority Foundation, Ms. Magazine, UN News

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