The U.S has completely withdrawn as of Aug. 30, this leaves the Taliban in charge, and Afghans along with the rest of the world are wondering what’s next for Afghanistan.
“The Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan by US-led forces in 2001, but the group has seized control of the country once again following a rapid offensive,” BBC says in an article entitled, “Who are the Taliban?” One of the last places they took over was Kabul, the capital. To explore why the U.S didn’t want the Taliban in charge, how they handled their reign the first takeover is important to consider.
In 1996 with little warning, Afghans were suddenly under Taliban reign and given strict rules to follow. The complete list of the things banned by the Taliban can be found on Village Voice and Business Insider, a summary of their laws is as follows:
NO Cosmetics, Jewelry or Charming Clothes, or You Will be Beaten
DO NOT speak until spoken to or make eye contact with men, or You Will be Beaten
Laugh in Public and You Will be Beaten
Paint Your Nails and Lose a Finger
Girls are forbidden from schools
Women are forbidden from working
Female Adulterers will be stoned to death
Women Can Not Travel Without A Male Family Member or Husband
These are rules for women only, while there is still a long list for men, the rules for females are stricter and have more severe consequences. In an article by Reuters, it shows how men in Afghanistan believe women have too much freedom. They also state “Between 1996 and 2001, under the Taliban government, women were banned from work, made to wear a full-length burqa that covered their face and not allowed out without a male relative.”
Women that were allowed to work in medicine could only work on other women and were pushed into non-funded buildings without the new, sterile tools or tech that other medical centers had. They also had to wear burqas in the operating room which according to Facing History are garments that cover the entire face and body with a screen-like fabric over the eyes. Doing surgery can be stressful, and is hard enough without limited vision and thick clothes.
Khaled Hosseini as described by Khaled Hosseini’s Bio website is an Afghan-American novelist born in Kabul Afghanistan in 1965, although he left 16 years before the Taliban’s gain of control, for which he feels Survivor’s Guilt, he wrote a book through the eyes of Afghan women living in the Taliban era, titled A Thousand Burning Suns. The male character in the book constantly abuses his two wives who are more than 30 years younger than him in front of their kids. He whips them with belts and makes them chew rocks on their knees. He takes the ladies outside but on cruel days, he refuses or takes them half of the way to turn back at the last second knowing they can’t continue without a man. When Mariam gets sick of this, she journeys with Laila alone and sometimes they make it, but other days they are whipped with car antennas by the Taliban and sent home.
Hosseini’s story shares the importance of Women’s rights and explains the fear of the Taliban conquering Afghanistan once again. When Afghan females saw the U.S was slowly losing the battle, they rushed out to buy burqas not sure of how the Taliban would handle the power the second time around. Politicians and activists spoke out about the terror of possibly being hunted and punished. Women in Afghanistan at the time were, and in some cases still are, considered inferior and mistreated.
There are a lot of stereotypes about Afghan men having multiple wives that are treated like maids, and overall considering women objects. This stereotype isn’t exactly just rumors though. As said by Reuter in an article from Jan. 2019, “Afghanistan is not an easy place to be a woman, with forced marriage, domestic violence, and high maternal mortality rates, particularly in rural areas, according to equality advocates.”
The Taliban suppressing women shows just how important women’s rights are, especially in third-world countries like Afghanistan. However, the New York Times reports, “Their leaders have insisted that this time will be different. Women, they say, will be allowed to work. Girls will be free to attend school. At least within the confines of their interpretation of Islam.” Even with this promise in mind, a Taliban spokesman ordered women to stay home because “Taliban soldiers haven’t been trained to respect women.” It isn’t hard to respect people’s rights and the fact that the soldiers need to be trained and are in no rush to do so is concerning. The future of Afghan women is bleak and whether or not Afghanistan will have women’s rights remains to be unknown.