Afghan Women Face Uncertain Future As Taliban Restricts Education

Afghan Volleyball Player Reportedly Killed by Taliban

( – The world looked on in shock as the Taliban overran the Afghanistan government before the Biden administration could complete its withdrawal of allied service members and evacuation of US citizens and Afghan partners. On August 15, the extremist group seized the presidential palace in Kabul. Hamid Karzai International Airport became a security nightmare after an August 26 attack killed 13 US service members and injured an untold number.

The US is now out of the country and the Afghan people are suffering — especially women.

Women Protest for Education

Reports suggest that the Taliban is working quickly to restrict the rights and freedoms of Afghan women following President Joe Biden’s failure to properly coordinate his ordered retreat by August 31. Many women have already found themselves barred from education, which they’d grown accustomed to during their years free from the Taliban’s rule.

Currently, the Taliban is only permitting girls under 12 to attend school. According to CBS News, young girls are now fearful for the future of their education, with one child declaring, “Yes, I am very afraid. I want to go to school!”

During an interview this week, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that girls and women over 12 would eventually be allowed to continue learning in the classroom. However, he didn’t give any indication about when that might be.

Meanwhile, women in Afghanistan are pushing back by protesting for their right to learn. CBS News on October 22 reported on the latest protest by almost two dozen women in Afghanistan. By taking part in the display, they risk facing punishment from the Taliban, but it appears they haven’t given up just yet.

Empty Promises From the Taliban?

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, reports of oppression and brutality against women have circulated online. In some cases, it can be difficult to verify the accuracy of these reports thanks to a lack of media coverage for women there. This means the future of women’s rights under the Taliban remains uncertain. On August 17, Mujahid assured reporters the group would respect women’s rights during the extremist group’s first press conference. However, he added one caveat — Taliban officials would interpret those rights within the confines of Sharia or Islamic law.

The history of the Taliban’s treatment toward women inspires little confidence in those who remember it. When the Taliban was in power during the late 1990s, women weren’t allowed to attend school, work, or even leave the home without a male relative. Women who broke the rules often faced severe punishment, including beatings — and in some cases, execution.

While Mujahid claimed that the Taliban would respect women’s rights, many scholars argue that the Quran itself grants men superiority over women. The book designates men as the “protectors” or “maintainers” or women, while the testimony of one woman is considered equal to about half that of a man.

The erasure of Afghan women from schools and the media could portend bad times for them. However, some women continue to stand up for their freedom. As rights activist Mahbouba Seraj said to the young women and girls in Afghanistan, “Just take a deep breath… don’t lose hope… Don’t despair, because something is going to happen. I can promise you that much.”

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