How has the situation for women changed since the Taliban took power in August last year? And how does the situation vary across different parts of the country, e.g in Kabul versus more rural provinces?
A lot of things have changed for the worse since 15 August 2021. You see what is happening in Kabul but it is ten times worse in the provinces. And it is even more difficult in remote provinces where there is no media and in small provinces where everyone knows each other so it is easy to locate someone who dares to speak out against the Taliban.
The Taliban have issued a decree on women’s rights, which states that women are free but makes no mention of employment or education rights. What are your thoughts on the intent behind this decree and its content?
The Taliban’s hardline gender discrimination is what distinguishes them from other insurgent groups, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. They ban women from working outside their home, ban girls’ education after year six, deny women their right to political participation as well as their social, economic and cultural rights. Therefore, the decree didn’t come as a surprise to us because we lived under the Taliban in the 1990s and we know what they are about. What makes it more disappointing now is that this decree comes after an agreement with the US and peace talks involving several other countries who were trying to push for women’s rights and human rights. Then suddenly you see that they don’t really matter, no one seems concerned about women’s rights or human rights.
We were shocked by the lack of reaction to this decree from the international community, there was nothing. As Afghan women and Afghan people, we feel betrayed by the international community because we fight daily against these rules. Women are out protesting, asking for their basic and fundamental rights. But there is no real support to help us push for these human rights and women’s rights agendas.