Conventional media have put all their resources into whitewashing the brutalities of the Taliban and giving them an image makeover, so as to make them acceptable to the modern world and perhaps win these mountain savages a seat at the United Nations. They tell us that Taliban 2.0 is a whole different entity and is not comparable to the Taliban that had wreaked havoc in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. After all, the Muslim group has promised to honor women rights and allow them to continue to work as usual. Little girls could receive education as well.
We are a little confused by the Taliban’s commitment to permitting girls to go to school, because quite recently, Taliban jihadis were going door-to-door hunting down girls as young as twelve years old, to take them as sex slaves. We have learned of a woman being lashed for wearing revealing slippers and another burka-clad woman being shot dead for not covering her face enough. And these atrocities have happened under the rule of the moderate, women’s-rights-acknowledging Taliban 2.0.
Leaders of the Muslim outfit have clarified their views on women’s rights in the country: “The rights of women will be under the Sharia law,” affirmed Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, during their first press conference since conquering Kabul.
And what are the rights granted to women by this esteemed Islamic law? Let’s look at the “rights” Afghan women enjoyed during Taliban 1.0 from 1996 to 2001; or shall we call them impositions?
Women were not allowed to walk out of their homes without a burqa covering every inch of their skin, including their feet, hands and face. Most women during that period opted for the shuttlecock burqa that covered them from head to toe; there was a little gap for the eyes, but with a net or mesh covering the gap so that their eyes couldn’t be seen. It was mandatory for every woman to be accompanied by a male family member – a blood relative – while she was out on the street.
No man should be able to hear the footsteps of a woman, hence, high heels or any kind of footwear that produced a sound while walking were banned from use by women.
A woman’s voice must not reach the ears of a man who is not related to her. Hence she must watch the level of sound she was producing while talking. Would it be “Islamophobia” if we said that the Taliban had perfected the textbook version of silencing a woman?
Again, as women were prohibited from being viewed by men who were not related to her by blood, it was mandatory that the windows of all ground floors be painted in a dark tint, covered, or shut at all times, just in case a woman passed by and became visible to a man in the ground floor.
Also, women were barred from standing at the balconies of their houses, as that could allow men on the streets or male neighbors to catch a glimpse of them.
The word “woman” was removed from all public places or names of public places.
Women were precluded from having their pictures taken or being filmed. No images of women could be printed on the pages of books or newspapers, or kept at stores or in homes.
It goes without saying that women were not allowed to be in movies or on television, or to work at radio stations. They were forbidden from forming groups outdoors or holding public gatherings.
Women have never been allowed to work in offices under the Taliban. They cannot work as journalists, bankers, teachers, nurses, doctors or hold administrative positions, as these jobs would land them amidst male colleagues who are not related to them. Office jobs held by women were subsequently passed on to their male family members.
Little girls were banned from going to school. Numerous schools imparting education to girls have been bombed or burned down by the Taliban, not only in Afghanistan, but in several countries where they have gained the slightest foothold.
No woman under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan ever enjoyed the basic human right of speaking her mind or dressing as she liked. Women who flouted any of the above commandments were subjected to harsh, undreamed-of and ruthless punishments by the religious police. They could be stoned to death, mutilated, or given hundreds of lashes with a meter-long metal lash. Many of these women perished in the midst of receiving their penalty.
Afghanistan in 1996 witnessed a young woman’s finger being chopped off by the Taliban; she had dared to paint her nails. A woman named Bibi Aisha was forced into a nightmarish marriage as a trade-off to settle a family dispute. When she tried to escape the violent and abusive marriage, the Taliban, to shame her for her act of disobedience and to set a warning example for the other young women in the community, severed her nose and ears.
One must be an absolute ignoramus living in denial to even begin to trust that the Taliban will leave the Afghan women alone this time.