Editorial: Equal rights

Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men, the interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital said Sunday, detailing the latest restrictions on women by the new Taliban rulers.

The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign that the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises by some that they would be tolerant and inclusive. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, the new Taliban government issued several decrees rolling back the rights of girls and women. It told female middle- and high school students that they could not return to school for the time being, while boys in those grades resumed studies this weekend. Female university students were informed that studies would take place in gender-segregated settings from now on, and that they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

Under the US-backed government deposed by the Taliban, university studies had been co-ed, for the most part. On Friday, the Taliban shut down the Women’s Affairs Ministry, replacing it with a ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice” and tasked with enforcing Islamic law.

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the ministry, holding up signs calling for the participation of women in public life. A society in which women are not active is dead society, one sign read. Why are they (the Taliban) taking our rights? said one of the protesters, 30-year-old Basira Tawana. ‘We are here for our rights and the rights of our daughters.’

The protest lasted for about 10 minutes. After a short verbal confrontation with a man, the women got into cars and left, as Taliban in two cars observed from nearby. Over the past months, Taliban fighters had broken up several women’s protests by force. All human beings have equal rights and Afghan rulers should understand this.

 

NT Bureau