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Segregation and Violence Under Taliban Rule In Afghanistan

Miruna Demian, XI A

Twenty years after being driven from power by the US, the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan in 2021. Among a continuously enlarging list of crimes against human rights and mass persecution, they have oppressed women's rights and neglected essential services.

Even prior to the Taliban's takeover, women already faced gender-based violence and discrimination; but ever since then matters have only gotten worse. The Taliban, who serve as Afghanistan's de facto rulers, issued a directive on December 24, 2022, prohibiting all national and international NGOs present in the country from hiring women.

It would seem that women are no longer allowed to work at all, as they've been 'escorted' out of every position they had held up until December, from shop clerks to law officials, healthcare specialists, educators, and volunteers. The Taliban told them they would be replaced by their male relatives until further notice for their own safety.

The Taliban’s Minister of Disaster Management has publicly declared that “There is no need for women to work. Our religion does not allow women to work”.

Universities have been ordered to stop accepting female students as of December 20th. Women were prohibited access to the nation's parks and gyms in November 2022, and have been banned from engaging in sports since Afghanistan's subjection to Taliban rule. Secondary institutions for girls have been closed statewide last year as well.

Women were - are - essential links in reaching out to other women in the community not only due to the gender segregation rules issued by the Taliban, but also due to pre-existing cultural sensitivities, as these tasks were previously carried out by women workers for women beneficiaries. Women are prohibited from travelling over longer distances without a male relative, and are not allowed to visit male doctors, rendering them unable to receive any form of healthcare whatsoever.

Reports and witnesses from Afghanistan say that women who peacefully protested against these oppressive rules have been threatened, arrested, detained, tortured, and made to disappear in broad daylight all throughout the last two months, which is not surprising given the Taliban's decision to enforce their own interpretation of Sharia Law, which includes public executions, stonings, floggings and the amputation of limbs for thieves, as has been declared by Afghanistan’s supreme leader.

Videos and images of Taliban forces giving summary floggings to those charged with various offences have been routinely seen on social media since 2021. On several occasions, the Taliban has also displayed in public the bodies of kidnappers who were declared to have been killed in shootouts.

Despite Taliban claims that "Afghanistan's soil will not be used against the security of any other country," international observers are nevertheless concerned - and it is not without evidence - that the Taliban assists terrorist organisations, particularly al-Qaeda, thus posing a threat to regional and global security.

Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis further worsens by the day, with famine and violence ferociously striking the country.

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