There is great scepticism about the role the insurgents will give to women

Taliban crack down on women's protests

AP/WALI SABAWOON - Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban government during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban forces displayed their weapons to quell women's protests in Afghanistan. They fired into the air to instil fear and put an end to the latest women's demonstrations on Saturday.

Dozens of women took to the streets of Kabul to demand equal rights from the country's new leadership. The Taliban took almost total control of Afghanistan after the abrupt departure of international troops from the country; they advanced rapidly in recent weeks to enter the Afghan capital and seize power, with the exception of a few strongholds such as Panjshir. The insurgents made it clear that there will be a Taliban government that respects women's rights, but all within the confines of Islamic law, and this clarification has led to considerable scepticism about how women will be treated in the near future. 

The Taliban explained that there will not be as much repression as in the past Taliban government that ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, the year in which the US military intervention was triggered by the 9/11 attacks; an operation aimed at putting an end to Jihadist terrorism and hitting the Al-Qaeda group, which ended at the end of this month of August after 20 years of international troops in Afghan territory. 

Mujeres afganas sostienen pancartas mientras participan en una protesta

The latest women's march, the second to be held in Kabul, began peacefully. The marchers laid a wreath in front of the Afghan Ministry of Defence to remember Afghan soldiers killed in the fight against the Taliban and then headed to the capital's presidential palace.

"We are here to win human rights in Afghanistan," said Maryam Naiby, a 20-year-old protester. "I love my country. I will always be here," she was quoted as saying by Arab News. 

As the demonstration progressed, Taliban forces moved into the crowd to check on the demands and petitions. Sudaba Kabiri, a 24-year-old university student, told the Taliban that the Prophet of Islam gave women rights and that they wanted theirs. The Taliban promised that women would be granted their rights, but the women protesters, all in their early 20s, were sceptical, as reported by The Associated Press and Arab News. 

Un miembro (izq.) de los talibanes observa cómo las mujeres afganas sostienen pancartas durante una protesta

When the demonstration reached the presidential palace, several members of the Taliban special forces rushed into the crowd and fired into the air to disperse the rally. Sudaba Kabiri herself indicated that tear gas was also fired.

Farhat Popalzai, another university student, said she wanted to be the voice of the voiceless women of Afghanistan, those who are too afraid to go out on the streets. "I am the voice of the women who cannot speak. They think this is a country of men, but it is not, it is also a country of women," she stressed. 

The Taliban have promised an inclusive government and a more moderate Islamic system than when they last ruled the country between 1996 and 2001. But many Afghans, especially women, are deeply sceptical and fear for the loss of rights gained over the past 20 years. 

Una manifestante afgana se enfrenta con un miembro de los talibanes durante una protesta

The more immediate social future in Afghanistan remains to be seen; with some concern, especially for sectors such as women. Under the previous Taliban government, women endured a very dark period marked by a severe lack of rights and freedoms. Now they are the ones who have certain fears about the immediate future with the Taliban's assumption of power.

In this sense, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan has already published a list of all the setbacks that a woman can suffer under the political and social guidelines of the radical Islamist Taliban. According to this list, Afghan women now face 29 prohibitions that the Taliban could apply following the precepts of an extremist Islamic law. The organisation warns of the danger that exists again under Taliban directives and denounces that the insurgents "treat women worse than their animals".

Manifestaciones mujeres Afganistán

It warns that under Taliban rule, women suffer from social invisibility, must be subjected to men at all times and have virtually no freedoms. If she breaks a rule or is accused of having done so, she can be humiliated, mutilated and, in the worst case, killed with the approval of the Islamic State, according to various analysts and media.

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