Taliban War against Women

The Taliban regime’s war against women and girls must end.

During the first Taliban regime in Afghanistan (1996-2001), Afghan girls and women suffered severe human rights violations that were condemned worldwide. The current Taliban regime has re-imposed the same and more draconian restrictions on women’s education, employment, and mobility. The criminal group refuses to guarantee human rights to half its population, and despite crimes and violations, the group seeks to be recognized as the official Afghan government. This must not happen until the Taliban stops its war against women.

Today’s Taliban is still a regime of terrorists. 

After being ousted by the US-led intervention in 2001, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, in a military takeover. The Taliban has since formed what it calls an interim government composed exclusively of its members, all males, mostly from the same ethnic group, and dominated by veteran militants and war criminals. They have established an Islamic Emirate and reimposed draconian edicts, especially against women as well as ethnic and religious minorities, restoring the past rules of its first regime. Some even worse than the last time. It is clearly still a regime of terrorists. 

Breaking its promise of universal amnesty, the Taliban is still detaining, abducting, jailing, interrogating, torturing, and killing former officials, women, and civil society activists. Many who have disappeared are thought to be murdered. Heroic women continue to resist through peaceful protests, but they face increasing risks to their lives. Evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch and The New York Times has documented the executions of more than 500 former government officials, former members of the security forces, human rights defenders, journalists, artists, and academics. Kabul News reported in June 2022, that “the Taliban Ministry of Interior said 5,000 people have been arrested in Kabul alone in the past month on various charges.” 

Gender apartheid edicts of the Taliban 

The Taliban does not recognize the human rights of more than half its population. It cannot be recognized as a legitimate government.

  • The Taliban is the world’s only regime to deprive nearly all girls and women of an education. 
  • The vast majority of women have been forced from their jobs, slashing or ending their families’ income.
  • Many new rules end women’s efforts to achieve equal rights. Activist women who continue to protest in public are routinely arrested and warned that their lives are at risk. Some have been killed, even in their homes. 
  • Women must be covered head-to-toe in public – the same blue cloth the Taliban forced women during their first time in government. Many women are told to again wear a burka with only a small mesh opening for vision and air. The first Taliban regime often beat, flogged or even killed women for violating this and other edicts. This regime punishes men in the families if the women do not obey the Taliban edicts, furthering domestic violence. 
  • New rules essentially confine women to their homes unless accompanied by a male relative chaperone. Women and girls can only go outside of their home if absolutely necessary. If women go out, the men in the family will be punished for failing to meet their responsibilities.
  • In a poor country where access to health care has always been limited because of supply and personnel shortages, women cannot now seek health care on their own. The directive reads, “No women can come to health centers without a “mahram,” a male chaperone.
  • The Taliban shut down the Ministry for Women’s Affairs and replaced it with the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – essentially a morality police. The agency regularly issues draconian, misogynistic edicts to eliminate the rights of women and girls.
  • The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has been abolished.
  • Almost all violence shelters have been closed.
  • Public amusement and nature parks are now segregated to admit men on certain days and women on others, denying families the ability to enjoy leisure time together.
  • Deaths during pregnancies and at childbirth have increased along with forced marriages, again making Afghanistan one of the world’s most dangerous countries for women and girls.

On Education

  • Millions of girls and women have been out of school since the 2021 Taliban takeover. The Taliban promised to open public schools to all girls on March 23, 2022 but reneged on this commitment. Instead, they closed classrooms for girls in grades 7 to 12.
  • Initially, the Taliban terrorist regime segregated universities in ways that made access to higher education extremely difficult for women. Only women instructors may teach women students, but work restrictions have reduced the number of women teachers, and class hours reduced significantly too. Late in 2022, Afghan women were ordered that they can no longer attend higher education. 
  • The Taliban’s choice of mandatory university as well as public dress code requires a long black “uniform” that limits women’s interaction, eliminates individuality, denies freedom of choice, and imposes subservience.
  • These actions mean that this generation of women and girls will be limited in their education, if not deprived of it altogether, and therefore essentially erased from many professional jobs and public participation. Not only will women and girls suffer, but so will the country as a whole.

On Employment

  • Upon the Taliban takeover, most women were stopped from returning to their jobs under the guise of “safety and protection.”
  • Women are permitted to hold only sex-segregated jobs, such as teachers in private schools for girls, or doctors and nurses in health care facilities for women.
  • Female judges, members of Parliament, police, and other government officials are either in hiding in Afghanistan out of fear for their lives or have fled to other countries.
  • Women TV journalists are not only prevented from freely reporting the news, as all Afghan journalists are, but must also observe a dress code that covers everything but their eyes. 
  • Women have been banned from appearing in television dramas.

On Freedom of Movement 

  • Women can only leave their homes when absolutely “necessary” and that too only when accompanied by a close male family member.  
  • All vehicle/taxi drivers have been directed not to pick up female passengers who are not covered from head to toe and who are not with a male escort. 
  • The Taliban has decreed that women leaving their homes must be accompanied everywhere by a male relative, including while shopping for food and essentials and in travel to airports or to another country, making it nearly impossible for single women to travel within or outside of Afghanistan. Women and girls have become prisoners in their own homes. If women leave their homes, the male in the house will be punished and put in jail.