The World Today for October 06, 2021
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Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar recently told Western leaders that he and his forces will treat women with dignity in the wake of his group taking control of Afghanistan after the recent exit of US forces.
“Women will be given rights in accordance with Sharia,” Baradar told NBC News.
What Baradar means by women’s rights is vastly different from internationally recognized senses of the term, however. One of the first acts by the Taliban’s recently appointed chancellor at Kabul University, for example, was to ban women from studying there.
“I give you my word as chancellor of Kabul University,” Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat tweeted, according to the New York Times. “As long as a real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first.”
Women have been told they can study but only in traditional garb and only with other females, the BBC added. Similarly, the Taliban have told women they can have jobs and work as professionals but for now they have to stay at home due to security concerns. Some women have resisted the moves, reported NDTV, an Indian media outlet. But they face grim odds.
When the Taliban controlled the Central Asian country between 1996 and 2001 – the US invaded soon after the September 11 terror attacks that were planned in Afghanistan under their watch – they enforced an ultra-orthodox version of Sunni Islam on the people. Women could not attend school, hold jobs or appear in public without male chaperones and a face-covering.
Many women see a similar regime coming now, the Washington Post wrote, even though these days, women walk and shop on the streets of Kabul without covering their faces, which once would have risked a beating by Taliban morals police. And while sixth-grade girls can still go to school, older female students are banned. That is breaking the heart of the mothers of daughters who enjoyed participating in school under the previous US-backed government. The mothers are watching the Taliban ruin yet another generation’s chance at an education.
They are also watching as the Taliban closes down shelters that for the past 20 years have provided safe havens for women seeking to escape forced marriages, sexual assault and domestic abuse, Radio Free Europe reported. Many of the women who lived in these shelters now must return to the abusive husbands and families they had fled, Human Rights Watch noted.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has brought back the moral police – the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – and housed it in the recently shut Ministry of Women’s Affairs. It will resume amputations and executions as punishments.
That move alone shows that the Taliban’s rule is likely to grow harsher, observers say.
The Taliban went too far when they allied with Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that orchestrated the September 11 attacks, and were kicked out of power. Now they are back in control in the capital of Kabul. If they can manage to keep from repeating their mistakes internationally, little stands in their way domestically.
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