Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan file reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban took over. Here, a law student in Kabul reports on recent developments in the Taliban’s treatment of women in Afghanistan. For confidentiality and security reasons, we retain his name. The text has only been slightly modified to respect the author’s voice.
The Taliban are afraid of Afghan women, or so it seems. Over the past two weeks, two activists, Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parwana Ibrahimkhel, were abducted from their homes by the Taliban for participating in protests. The United Nations has addressed this development directly by urging the Taliban to release them at once.
Another Afghan women’s rights activist, Hoda Khamosh, called the Taliban to the summit in Oslo and confronted their atrocities against the Afghan people. Khamosh held up a photo of Paryani and Ibrahimkhel and in front of the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, during the summit and demanded that he “pick up the phone right away, call Kabul and ask the girls to be released immediately”.
Curiously, the Taliban reportedly planned to recruit women and former lobbyists from their own ethnic and linguistic background, even if they were not necessarily pro-Taliban, raising questions about racial and ethnic discriminatory practices in more than gender discrimination. These individuals have been hand-picked with the intent of using them to soften the world’s view towards his regime or to humanize the enemy, so to speak. Khamosh taking on the Taliban at the top may well have put a damper on those plans.
On the other hand, other activists disappeared after the summit, including Dr. Zahra Mohammad and Mursal Ayar. Mursal was trapped in her own home and arrested by the Taliban after she allegedly received a call from her colleague asking for her address for salary payment. She was later arrested along with her father. Taliban leaders denied any involvement in these arrests and disappearances and said some members of the group may have taken this action on their own and were trying to locate and release them.
In another unfortunate development, an employee of the Ministry of Technology and Information, Edi Mah, was shot and killed on Wednesday along with her two children aged nine and 13. Their deaths will likely remain a mystery. The Taliban arrested a man for their death, but the motive is unclear and no further information has been released. However, under the Taliban regime, we can predict with certainty that a confession will be guaranteed. It’s just a matter of time!
It wasn’t the first such murder, of course. Last month, a Taliban fighter was arrested for shooting dead a young Hazara woman in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of Kabul. Zainab Abdullahi, 25, was shot dead at a checkpoint as she was returning from a wedding in Kabul. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem tweeted about the incident that Abdullahi was “killed by mistake”, and added that the arrested fighter would be punished. According to the Afghan Interior Ministry, Abdullahi’s family was offered 600,000 AFN (about US$5,700) for his death.
I must confess my view that the Taliban are not necessarily strict and cruel to “all” the women involved. Rather, there is a bias in favor of their own daughters living and studying in top foreign universities. According to a report by Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), a significant number of high-ranking Taliban officials are sending their daughters to schools and universities abroad while depriving millions of girls in Afghanistan of education since taking power. . These officials have shamelessly admitted that the reason they have not resettled their children to Afghanistan is the desire not to disrupt their education in foreign universities.
The recognition comes as public universities in Afghanistan remain closed to women and they continue to be whipped into a gender apartheid regime. For the Taliban, women are nothing more than objects of pleasure and an assembly line for the production of their offspring. This may seem like a rather extreme representation, but there is an abundance of supporting evidence. Reports say eight Taliban leaders have 20 wives between them. Looking collectively at the Taliban and their actions, any hope for equal rights and respect for Afghan women and minorities is unlikely to materialize in the foreseeable future.
Education, and the education of women in particular, unquestionably runs counter to the strict fundamentalist ideals of the Taliban and shakes the very heart of bigoted and oppressive regimes. As such, the Taliban are and will do everything in their power to reduce the influence of liberal thinking, modernization and all that comes with education. Two ways to do this are to block universities and try to fill the curriculum with strict fundamentalist Islamic teachings.
The activists were probably taken hostage to pressure the international community to urgently open a dialogue with the Taliban, which would inevitably give it more voice – a disgusting and immoral trick no doubt, but a clever one that seems function. The only thing I can say about this is that it would have been nice if the Oslo summit had been postponed until these activists and their relatives had returned home, not to mention the assurance of Norway that its invitation to the Taliban at the summit did not translate into “recognition” of the group or its regime in Afghanistan.