Women march through Kabul to demand role in Taliban government

Women march through Kabul to demand role in Taliban government

Kaboul, Afghanistan – Dozens of women took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to demand their right to work, a role in any future government and a place at the table of discussions with the Taliban.
The protest started with 50 women marching towards the presidential palace.

However, Razia Barakzai, 26, said the women were arrested near the entrance to the finance ministry, where the Taliban “surrounded” them and prevented them from continuing their march towards the entrance to the palace.

Barakzai said the Taliban used both pepper spray and tear gas in an attempt to dislodge the crowd. “We were calm and peaceful all the time, but they just wanted to stop us at all costs,” she told Al Jazeera.

Saturday’s protest marks at least the fourth time that women in Kabul and the western city of Herat have come together to demand their rights in a future government led by the Taliban. Barakzai said the Taliban trying to surround the protesters carried red banners and carried guns.

“They were not ordinary Taliban forces,” she said.

The crowd was surrounded on all four sides by the Taliban, who told them, according to Barakzai, “Go home, each of you one by one.” However, the exit proved to be just as difficult, as the Taliban continued to surround them.

“It was strange, they didn’t want us to stay, but they wouldn’t let us go either. “

Barakzai also said that one of the women was beaten up by the Taliban. Social media images showed a young woman bleeding from the head, where she claimed the Taliban had beaten her.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify exactly how she was injured.

Decision-making roles

Barakzai, who previously worked for a government office, said the latest action was in response to a recent statement by senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who in an interview said that “there may be no ”room for women in the upper echelons of a future government led by the Taliban.

“How are we supposed to have the rights they promised us if we are not in government decision-making roles or involved in talks with the Taliban,” Barakzai said.

At a press conference on August 17, the Taliban said the group “is committed to women’s rights under Sharia law. [Islamic law]. Our sisters, our men have the same rights; they will be able to benefit from their rights. They may have activities in different sectors and different areas based on our rules and regulations: education, health and other areas. They will work with us, side by side with us.

However, Barakzai said the women had yet to see evidence of this commitment to their participation or an explanation of what, if anything, would limit the Taliban to the role of women in the workplace and in society. in general. Additionally, Barakzai said that when she and her comrades tried to meet with the Taliban to discuss issues of women’s rights and participation, they were turned away.

“They would make an excuse that we didn’t have the right papers or that we weren’t there at the right time, but it just seems that they don’t want to talk to us,” she said, adding that the women will continue to engage in protests until the Taliban provides them with appropriate responses.

In recent weeks, the Taliban have sent mixed signals about the place of women in Afghan society. In late August, the group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said women who work with the government should stay at home until they can ensure their safety on the streets and in offices.

“We fear that our forces which are new and which have not yet been very well trained may mistreat women … We do not want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women,” Mujahid said during the conference. ‘a press briefing on August 24. He went on to say that women should stay home and receive their pay until it is deemed safe for them to return to work.

This statement has been compared to a similar statement made by Stanekzai in 1996, when the Taliban first came to power.

Stanekzai, who was then the Taliban’s deputy foreign minister, said the Taliban leadership at the time “had just told them [women] that at the moment they should not come to [the] office and school… Until we can find a solution or provide them with separate places.

That moment never came. During their initial rule, the Taliban prohibited women, except doctors, from working and did not allow girls to go to school.


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