NEWS
18/08/2021 12:52 BST

Brave Afghan Women Fight Back Against Taliban With Peaceful Protest

This is thought to be the first recorded women's protest since the Taliban gained control of the country.

The first recorded women’s protest against the Taliban in Afghanistan was shared on Twitter on Tuesday.

The brave group were demonstrating against the insurgents, who previously stripped women of their human rights when they were power, outside the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

According to Al Jazeera correspondent Hameed Mohd Shah, the women were chanting: “Taliban: We want our rights, here are women, we want social security, the ban on work, the right to education, and the right to political participation.

“No force can ignore and stifle women.

“All our achievements over the years should not be compromised [nor] our basic rights.”

The original clip came from the Twitter account of Shakeela Ebrahimkhil, a journalist from the German news outlet Deutsche Welle. She added the caption: ”There are Afghan women today on the roads of Kabul...Bravo.”

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Afghan women, holding placards, gather to demand the protection of Afghan women's rights in front of the Presidential Palace in Kabul

Why are women particularly afraid of the Taliban?

The Taliban became notorious for their treatment of women when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

The militants enforced a literalist version of Islamic law where women were forced to cover their face at all times in public, and could not go to school or work.

They could only leave their homes if they were accompanied by a male relative.

If women violated the Sharia-based rules, they would face public humiliations and beatings. If accused of adultery, they were stoned to death.

Women are now, understandably, completely terrified.

Just days into the Taliban’s new regime, reports have emerged of women being removed from their jobs and replaced by men.

A former Afghan resident, Homira Rezai, also told the BBC: “I have received an update from Kabul where they are going house to house searching for women who were activists, women who were bloggers, YouTubers.

“Any women who had a role in the development of civil society in Afghanistan.

“They are going door-to-door targeting those women and marking the doors with bright pink or bright-coloured paint to ensure ‘this is the house we need to come back to and do something about them’.”

Other reports also claimed the Taliban are making lists of female activists, journalists and government workers to target.

There are already reports that a woman has been sentenced to death by stoning in the Afghan province of Samangan.

HOSHANG HASHIMI via Getty Images
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (L) gestures as he speaks during the first press conference in Kabul on August 17, 2021

The Taliban claims it is now more moderate

The women’s protest followed the Taliban’s claims that women should not be afraid of their rule, and that had become a more moderate group in the last 20 years.

In their first official news conference since their dramatic resurgence, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said women will now be allowed to work and study up to a university level.

He added: ”[They] will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam.”

He combatted claims that the Taliban were hunting down those who helped the Western forces over the last two decades, and said “nobody will go to their doors to ask why they helped”.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen also told Sky News: “We are committed to women’s rights, to education, to work, and to freedom of speech, in the light of our Islamic rules. All people should be equal...and there should not be discrimination in society.”

He said women are expected to wear the hijab but the burqa is not obligatory.

But without the presence of US troops in the country, there are widespread fears that the Taliban will not hesitate to resume its oppressive state. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson promised on Wednesday that the Taliban will now be judged on “actions not words” following the militants’ promises.