The women prisons established by the Taliban represent yet another facet of the gender apartheid imposed by the brutal regime. Mary MacMakin, an American aid worker who was imprisoned by the Taliban for four days in July, commented, “The jail had four women to a room. New arrivals would sit down on the steps sobbing and sobbing.” Taliban authorities refuse to release jailed women until they prove that they have learned passages from the Koran.
According to a report by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, several Taliban-operated prisons, all in poor condition, arbitrarily detain hundreds of women. In Kandahar province, a women’s prison allegedly holds more than 400 women. One woman was imprisoned for speaking to a man in the street. The Taliban, which controls 90 percent of Afghanistan, has prohibited women from leaving their homes without a close male relative. Taliban authorities have beaten women for trying to go to work and for leaving their homes alone or without wearing a burqa.