Afghan Women: Freedom Is Forbidden

 

“She remembered Nana saying once, that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up in the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below.
 
As a reminder of how women like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us”
 
This excerpt from the book, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini explains the plight of the women in Afghanistan. While the world is yet fighting its way out of a pandemic, the Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, are doted to gain dominance back in their country.
 
On 15th August 2021, while India was celebrating its 75th Independence Day, the freedom of the Afghan citizens crumbled to dust. 

After several attacks, the Taliban had gained power in most of Afghanistan and were ready to establish their power after capturing the capital, Kabul.
 
While many Afghans were able to flee their country with great trouble, those left behind are dreading the aftermath of the events that have transpired in the past few weeks. The women fear for their basic freedom and the men fear they would be forced to practice terrorism.
 
During the Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001, the women were devoid of their basic rights. They had to be fully covered in a burqa, also called as chadaree in Afghanistan. 

They were unable to venture out on the roads without a male, unable to access health care services, devoid of their jobs and forced to beg and take up prostitution.
 
A Taliban spokesperson had admitted that the women of Afghanistan will be allowed to have their rights but their plight has already begun. 

Several videos have been released where desperate women are passing their children across the borders just for the safety of their child.
 
Women have begun burning their educational degree’s, a new classroom system is adopted with a curtain separating the boys from the girls in the classroom. The young girls of school and colleges are seen dressed in a burqa.
 
The women activist and their leaders fear for their lives. Those who are lawyers have expressed their concern for safety since the prisoners have been released and now seek revenge. The fear arose when two women judges were shot dead on the streets by ‘unidentified men’.
 
While some women are afraid, those left with little hope and courage are fighting for their rights. The women’s rights protest in Kabul was interrupted by the Taliban who pepper sprayed them, released tear gas and brutally beat them up with a gun magazines.
 
In more recent news, many women have taken onto the streets to protest against the world’s silence and the Taliban’s rule. 

The Taliban have retaliated and banned women’s sport teams and all PhD and Master’s degree are deemed void.
 
The Afghan women artists, journalists and public speakers fear the future of their jobs. However, while the Taliban were establishing their power, female journalists were reporting from the studios and even on the streets which raises questions of safety of these women.
 
The pictures of women are being erased from the public forefront with the Taliban tearing down posters of women on salons and spray painting those pictures that cannot be removed.
 
The women of Afghanistan were fond of beauty since the 2000’s and many new salons were opened which increased job opportunities of women to be beauticians and make-up artists. These women are left with no jobs with the destruction caused to their industry.
 
With the withdrawal of U.S troops, the Taliban are now forming a government of their own. Although they have stated that they will respect the right of the women, the Taliban have told the women that the burqa is compulsory. 

The few people seen on the streets follow a strict dress code where the men wear salwaar kameez and the women are in a burqa.
 
Although the news channels and information of the activities in Afghanistan will now be highly manipulated, there was news of women being forced out of their houses and taken by the Taliban mainly for prostitution and other illegal activities like spying.
 
The Taliban, an extremist group in Afghanistan who strictly follow the Sharia law have been a living nightmare for Afghanistan since the very beginning. The interpretation of the Sharia law is highly criticized by Muslims and scholars around the world.
 
While the Taliban claim that the law allows the women to have certain rights “within the bounds of Islamic law”, the Sharia law, as interpreted by the scholars is considered to be a way to living a moral life with no specific set of laws.
 
The Sharia law considers adultery and theft as crimes which lead to punishments when proved guilty. However, the Taliban have carried out executions, gunned down men and women openly on the streets without an explanation.
 
The Taliban have interpreted the Sharia law in their own way and made their own laws. An example of this is that the law does not demand a woman to be escorted by a male but the Taliban have been practicing this since years.
 
The women in Afghanistan live each day in fear of what the next will bring to them. Some pray that they are lucky to be alive while some wish for the sweet release of death. The word ‘freedom’ still remains unknown to an Afghan woman.
 

Written by Jerusha Patel

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