Gannon, the Associated Press’s news director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, interviewed teachers about the education of women and girls and why they believed the newly-elected Taliban opposed it. “He walked in and he was furious to see a woman talking to a group of men. And all he did was yell at me, ‘Get out!’ in Pashto, ”she recalls.
« One of the men stood up to explain what they were doing and that they had just this discussion about education. And he just pulled himself out, just took his hand away and really hit the guy and knocked him over. “
But last week, Gannon met again with Turabi, who is now the Taliban’s prison chief and cabinet member, to question him about the militant group’s plans for Afghanistan.
« There have certainly been changes. He was talking to a woman, which he never would have done before. He allowed a photo of him, which he never would have done before, ”Gannon said. As it happens host Carol Off.
« So there are changes. The question I think, however, is rather how widespread they are. How are they really going to play in terms of women’s education and work? She said.
Severe punishments to come back
Many Afghans fled the country when the Taliban returned to power in August, fearing the return of tough rules, as well as sanctions, including hand amputations or even executions.
After speaking with Turabi, Gannon said she believes the Taliban has changed in some ways and is embracing the technology, allowing TVs and smartphones, especially if it helps them move their agenda forward.
“It was clear that he understood the value of photographs, the value of social media in getting their point across. But I’m not sure the message itself has changed, ”she said.
This message is a strict interpretation of the Quran. Turabi told Gannon that harsh punishments, including executions and hand amputations, will return, although there have been discussions about whether the measures will be enforced in public as they have been in the past.
On Saturday, the Taliban hung a corpse from a crane parked in a square in Herat town and said the man participated in a kidnapping and was killed by police.
“The reality is that they understand the world was outraged,” she said. “So that’s something they’re looking at. How do they continue with what they want to do and how do they want to do it, without generating this public outrage? “
Turabi told Gannon that if the sanctions were made public, people might be able to record and release videos and photos of them as a deterrent. He also said the Taliban would allow women to be judges to try cases that could see the harsh punishments meted out.
Role of women uncertain
The Taliban have said women and girls will be able to access education, but a strict dress code will apply and students must adhere to Sharia law.
“I think of [Turabi’s] prospect, there will be women who go to school, ”Gannon said. But it remains to be seen how they implement this and how quickly they do it. ”
Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban’s new higher education minister, said earlier this month that women could still attend university, but would be separated from men. But the new chancellor of Kabul University, appointed by the Taliban, said on Monday that women would not be allowed to go to university or work until an “Islamic environment” was created, according to NPR. .
The Taliban have also banned sports for women, and many athletes and their families have left the country.
Gannon noted that she recently spoke with a woman in Afghanistan who does tae kwon do.
“She was like, ‘You know, the problem is, 80 percent of Afghan men are not going to fight for women’s rights,’” Gannon said.
“We were in a store chatting and I looked at the shopkeeper and I said, ‘Is that true?’ She said. “He nodded and he said, ‘Unfortunately.’ So, you know, it’s a tough and complicated situation for women. “
Written by Andrea Bellemare with files from Associated Press. Interview by Katie Geleff.