Afghan women wearing full-face coverings stood in rows inside a university lecture hall in Kabul on Saturday in a pro-Taliban demonstration. They further swore support for policies introduced by the new Taliban administration.
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On Saturday, about 300 women brandished Taliban flags while speakers spoke against the West and showed support for Taliban’s policies. The demonstrators were dressed head-to-toe in conformity with new dress restrictions. Most women wore black gloves as a mark of protest, while some were observed wearing blue burqas.
During their previous regime from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban leadership had severely curtailed women’s rights in Afghanistan. However, since regaining power last month, they have promised to pursue a more moderate policy.
Women and Taliban Policies
This time, women will be allowed to attend university for higher education only if classes are separated by gender or at least separated by a curtain, according to the Taliban’s education administration. An abaya robe and a niqab have also been made mandatory for them.
Earlier in the week, multiple protests in Kabul and other cities around Afghanistan demanded for women’s participation in the government as well as their right to education and employment. Talibani forces have attempted to put an end to such protests, which are frequently led by women, by firing into the air to disperse protestors. They have further outlawed such displays of defiance to their regime.
“We are against those women who are protesting on the streets, claiming they are representative of women,” one speaker was quoted saying on Saturday. Another reportedly said that women not donning the hijab (head covering) were “harming” the rest of them. (quote from She The People)
The protesters further criticized women who had been showcasing retaliations against the Taliban. They defended the new government formed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan- which, as one of its policies, had imposed a ban on demonstrations unless permission had been sought by the justice ministry for the same.
The female speakers spoke about how supporting the previous governments would go against achieving freedom for women:
“Is it freedom to like the last government? No, it is not freedom. The last government was misusing women. They were recruiting women just by their beauty,” one of them claimed. (quote from The Hindu)
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