Social Issues

Banished from society, new generations of Afghani women struggle to survive

Kabul, Mar 8 (EFE).- A former director of the provincial education department working at a carpet factory in Kabul is a symbol of several generations of women who have been banished from society with the arrival of the Taliban in power.

“When there is no access to education and work for women, degrees and qualifications mean nothing. I joined this factory to survive and support my family of seven,” the former director, who goes by the pseudonym Latifa, told EFE.

She is one of more than 2,000 women and girls, many of them students or officials of the previous government, who began working a few months ago at this carpet factory in the Afghan capital, in order to support their families, its owner, Mohammad Naeem Walizada, told EFE.

The series of restrictions on women that followed the Taliban’s coming to power in August 2021, taking away their right to work and access to secondary and higher education, almost completely removed them from public life, dashing their plans for the future.

This is a very different situation from that experienced by Afghani women before the rise of fundamentalism, when many of them held high positions in government, including deputy ministers of defense, interior, education and other ministries, and when 37 percent of lawmakers were women.

This led women and girls to exhibit “wonderful achievements in all aspects of life” which now seem like dreams, Latifa said.

“Unfortunately, our beautiful country has become a hell for women and girls, there is no respect for women, and being a woman is a crime in this country,” she added.

The Taliban’s ban also dashed the hopes of thousands of high school and university students, who were forced overnight to leave the classrooms they had previously shared daily with their male peers.

Although the Taliban government has repeatedly said that this ban is temporary, a lack of implementation of several adjustments to allow the return of women to classes in accordance with Islamic law or sharia law, has left the situation unchanged.

During a recent graduation ceremony in Kabul, Taliban Higher Education Minister Neda Mohammad Nadim once again assured that “the ban on women’s education is temporary, not permanent.”

All these restrictions have led Latifa’s path to cross that of 21-year-old Hafasa, who graduated in 2021 with the hope of studying political science at the university, but who says that her dream ended with the collapse of the government in August that year.

A year and a half later, her goals are very different as she works with Latifa in the carpet factory while looking for any financial support that will allow her and her family to survive.

Amid this bleak scenario, Afghan women have begun to direct their criticism against another target – besides the Taliban government -, the international community, which they accuse of not doing more to stop their loss of rights.

“The statements from the human rights organizations couldn’t change anything…We expect a practical step from the international community to at least help us in terms of recovering our basic human rights,” Basira Hussani, a social activist, told EFE.

Hussani described as “empty,” the repeated statements issued by organizations such as the United Nations, which, she said, condemn the actions of the Taliban without taking practical measures.

However, the UN is not giving up, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a recent conference on the status of women in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, women and girls are erased from public life…we will never give up fighting for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world,” he said. EFE


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