Life under Taliban rule a year later: Women and girls struggle under oppressive policies
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This article is part of a Fox News Digital series examining the aftermath of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan one year ago this week.
A year after Kabul fell to the Taliban, the insurgent group’s restrictive policies have drastically affected women and girls who have seen their freedoms curtailed and daily life grind to a halt.
Taliban rule has not only led to Afghanistan’s crippling economy, food shortages and diplomatic deadlock, but women’s basic human rights have been affected.
“This is a country ruled by a man,” Meena Habib, 32, an investigative reporter and one of the few remaining female journalists in Afghanistan, told Fox News Digital. “Women don’t have good opportunities.”
“But that doesn’t mean we just [follow] his orders,” he added. “We’re trying to deal with his rules.”
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Habib has suffered serious repercussions for his defiance of the Taliban, including blatant intimidation, threats, arrests and several beatings.
The UN this month again called on the Taliban to reverse its oppressive policies and take steps to ensure that human rights, especially when they affect women and girls, are guaranteed.
“Nowhere else in the world has there been such a widespread, systematic and global attack on the rights of women and girls: every aspect of their lives is being restricted under the guise of morality and through the instrumentalization of religion”. the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in an August statement.
The Taliban’s oppressive measures have reached almost every facet of women’s lives, preventing them from hailing taxis without a male escort to enforce religiously-based hijab requirements.
“Everything has changed in the life of the Afghan people,” a 27-year-old woman, who was evacuated to the United States during the withdrawal last year, told Fox News Digital. “They have a lot of restrictions for women.
“If they don’t wear the hijab, the Taliban will come home and take the men away,” she explained. “They will avenge the men and then demand [that] they force their wives to wear the hijab.”
“The security is not good,” he added, noting that he wanted to remain anonymous to protect his family still in Afghanistan.
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The Taliban have also reportedly begun to institute harsh brands of justice not widely seen since before the US-led military coalition in 2001, including practices of stoning and cutting off the hands of accused thieves.
Women have also been largely banned from working unless they are in the medical or educational sectors, and girls are no longer allowed to attend secondary school.
The 27-year-old told Fox News Digital that some women have been allowed to finish their university studies, although she is skeptical of the Taliban’s motivation behind the move.
“I think they just allowed these girls to get their certificate and once they graduate, there won’t be another girl to go to college,” she said. “After 6th grade you cannot go to higher education.
“This is the kind of politics the Taliban do,” suggesting the insurgent group is trying to look “good” in the eyes of the world as it seeks international financial support.
Afghanistan was heavily dependent on international aid before the Taliban took over, but after the collapse of the former administration, the international community froze Afghanistan’s assets and halted program funding.
In a warning to the Taliban, the UN said the insurgent group will not gain international recognition or support if it does not adhere to recognized international human rights.
“We reiterate our call on the de facto authorities to fulfill their international obligations under international treaties, to which Afghanistan is a party,” the human rights agency said.
The UN also warned that if the Taliban continue with their oppressive policies and the lack of “an inclusive and representative government”, the prospect of “peace, reconciliation and stability will remain minimal”.
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The Taliban’s refusal to allow women to work has further hampered the dire economic situation and parents struggle to earn enough to feed their families.
The severe shortage of food and work has caused some families to start selling their daughters.
“It’s the only way they have to find food to feed the rest of the family: the risk [is] losing every member of the family,” the 27-year-old evacuee told Fox News Digital.
Despite reports suggesting there has been an increase in forced marriages, women have lost state protection, even in cases of abuse.
“Before, they could go to the government, and they could go to court. They could talk to someone and file a complaint against their husband,” the Afghan evacuee said, referring to the closure of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs by the Taliban in September 2021 “. But right now the Taliban aren’t listening.”
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“Despite making numerous commitments to uphold human rights, the Taliban have not only broken their promises, but have also reversed much of the progress made over the past two decades,” the UN said, echoing from the comments of various Fox News women. Digital spoke to.
The international agency said in August that it “has no confidence that the Taliban have any intention of fulfilling their promise to respect human rights” and instead called on the international community to take immediate action.
The UN said not only humanitarian aid and resources for women and minority groups need to be provided immediately, but other financial precautions must be taken.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called on nations to review the sanctions put in place after the Taliban took over to ensure they do not further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.