Right now, women in Afghanistan are enduring the world’s most serious crisis in terms of human rights since the Taliban took over the country the last time in 1996. After seizing power in Kabul, the Taliban declared that women would be granted equal rights under Sharia law in all aspects of life, including work, education, and society. However, Afghan women’s rights groups cautioned all along that the Taliban’s assurances to safeguard women’s rights were bogus, and that their recent veil compulsion decree significantly curtailed women’s rights.

When the war broke out, women found themselves in a precarious situation.

The Taliban disbanded the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and replaced it with the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which issued the most recent regulation restricting the rights of women to access to education, employment, and their rights in public places.

In education 

Since August, most Afghan secondary schools have been closed, at least for girls aged 13 to 18. Women teachers around the country were unable to return to work after the schools were reopened. The Taliban’s new guidelines stipulate that classrooms be split by gender, with no mixing of men and women in the class.

“I had one hope for today,” Malala wrote on Twitter, “that Afghan girls walking to school would not be sent back home. But the Taliban did not keep their promise. They will keep finding excuses to stop girls from learning – because they are afraid of educated girls and empowered women.”

The decision by the de facto authorities in Afghanistan to halt the school resumption for girls above grade six. “We deplore the Taliban’s continued insistence to erase women and girls from the public life of the country and to deny them their fundamental human rights such as the right to education,” the experts said. “This decision must be reversed immediately, and girls of all ages in every part of Afghanistan should be allowed to return to their classrooms safely.”

“We call on the international community, including donors, international organisations, and UN agencies operating in Afghanistan to hold the de facto authorities to account and to ensure that every girl can take her rightful place in the classroom,” the experts said. “The right of girls, irrespective of age, to enjoy access to education is an inalienable and non-negotiable right that must be protected.”

At workplace and in public

Taliban officials believe that women should be permitted to work, but only if their workplace is separate from mens’ wiping two decades of social progress in the country.

Afghan women must wear the long burqa that covers their entire body in public, according to the country’s supreme leader and Taliban boss. This is one of the most severe restrictions on women’s life imposed since the Taliban took power. They must dress in all-encompassing loose clothing that just exposes their eyes. It also calls to mind the Islamist group’s stringent Shariah-based governance in the late 1990s.

The Taliban’s recently resurrected Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice proclaimed that wearing a hijab, or headscarf, is “required for all respectable Afghan women”.

“Any garment covering the body of a woman is considered a hijab,” according to the ministry statement, “provided that it is not too tight to represent the body parts nor is it thin enough to reveal the body.” The Taliban’s latest decree exempts only older women and young girls.

If a woman does not cover her face when going out, her father or closest male relative may be imprisoned or fired from government work, according to the order.

“If a woman is caught without a hijab, her mahram (a male guardian) will be warned.” According to the statement, “the second time, the guardian will be summoned by Taliban officials, and after repeated summons, her guardian will be imprisoned for three days”.

Aside from the dress restriction for women and the appointment of men as the plan’s executors, new and tighter rules are released virtually every day. Women, for example, have been able to board planes only in the company of a man since the end of March.

Women were also prohibited from participating in politics or speaking publicly, as they had been during the previous Mujahideen rule.

“We are extremely concerned that the rights and progress Afghan women and girls have achieved and enjoyed over the last 20 years are being eroded”, said a spokesperson for the US State Department. “We remain deeply troubled by recent steps the Taliban have taken directed at women and girls including restrictions on education and travel.”


In fact, Afghanistan has surpassed Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with roughly 23 million people facing acute food shortages. Yet the world already tends to “forget” the Afghanistan problem, as the West is preoccupied with the Ukraine conflict. This provides a good environment for the Taliban to carry out their regressive policies across the country.

Despite the fact that rising living costs and unemployment have left many Afghans with hardly enough money to buy food since the Taliban assumed control of the country, the Taliban leadership has no plan to prevent the economy from collapsing. Then there is the restriction placed on women. After the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, this new order eroded Afghan women’s hard-won rights, forcing many women and their families to escape their homes in search of safety and freedom either within Afghanistan or in neighboring countries. The restrictions have  consequences not just on citizens but also on the Taliban regime. On one side, the restrictions may affect the Taliban’s efforts to gain international legitimacy. On the other hand, working with the Taliban to relieve a humanitarian crisis sweeping the country is becoming more difficult for the international community.

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