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Taliban brutalities against women go unreported

Taliban’s brutalities against women in the last few weeks have not even been reported, a former MP, a researcher and an artiste from Afghanistan have said. In a webinar organised by a Delhi-based Indian Women’s Press Corps on Wednesday, former MP and ex-envoy to Canada, Shinkai Karokhail, said women activists and politicians have been living in fear and changing places of stay frequently. Taliban has seized their vehicles and belongings and have been conducting searches for them. “All economic activity is closed. With the drought and Covid-19, it was anyway bad. But the future, particularly for women, looks very bleak. The international community should also take responsibility for what happened to Afghanistan,” Karokhail, who escaped to Canada last week, said.

The interpretation and implementation of Islamic law in the most regressive fashion by the Taliban have forced women in Afghan towns and cities to destroy their school certificates and universities degrees out of fear and rural women confining themselves to their houses as they are no longer allowed to venture out without a male companion.

Although ideologically provoked actions of the Taliban were intensely influenced by madrasas in Pakistan, there was an inherent contradiction, she said. “A woman in Pakistan could even become a PM, but by using Sharia as an excuse, the Talibs are stopping five-year-old children from going to school.” For the record, the first prime minister of a Muslim majority nation, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by a 15-year-old suicide bomber of the Pakistan Taliban while campaigning during elections in 2007.

“Women in Afghanistan know how to disseminate news on what is happening with them. They protested in public but were beaten up. Islam gives women equal rights. Even the Prophet’s wife was a working woman. Women are not a minority but make for half of Afghanistan’s population. Yet, we have been excluded in public life, while blacklisted ministers were appointed,” she said. The Taliban’s all Pashtun male interim government has attracted much criticism for excluding women and other ethnic groups.

The speakers also referred to 300 fully veiled Afghan women pledging support to Taliban and its hardline policies on gender segregation. Researcher Humeira Rizai said such women and Taliban were imposing a culture and dress-code alien to ethnic groups of Afghanistan and was symbolic of the large-scale radicalism Taliban had promoted for years, even among women. Rizai said stories of brutalities on women from Central Afghanistan, particularly from the Hazara Shia community who have been systematically persecuted by the Taliban, have not been reported. “They massacred hundreds of us then. The same is likely to happen now.”

“From 1996-2001, the Hazara dominated areas of Central Afghanistan hardly saw any development. Even now, a lot of mass violations of human rights happen there. Eyes of women are gouged in front of their children. There is a lot of fear in the Hazara community because even the murders are not being reported.” Artiste Fatima Framarz said the lives and livelihoods of women journalists have been affected as the Taliban was against women working and there was no freedom for media houses. “Their safety is a big concern,” she said.

( Originally published on Sep 15, 2021 )