Afghanistan is referred to as the “Heart of Asia” but the recent developments in the country has raised brows against the claim, internationally.
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The Taliban, ruling the landlocked country currently, is being rebuked worldwide for its selection of the misogynistic road. However, this is not its first time as the group has shown its malicious intent previously as well, when it was in power (1996-2001).
The plight presently
Commenting on the present situation of women in Afghanistan after the country’s reoccupation by the Taliban in 2021, the UN called it a “terrible act of self-sabotage”. A series of heavy restrictions and punishments were laid out for women in all walks of life- education, employment, healthcare, mobility, etc., which continues to date.
Education: The immediate move taken by the group was gender segregation in classrooms in universities to allow female education. However, the group relapsed to its older ways and eventually, in March 2022, closed opportunities for girls to go to high schools for attaining education. Now, 6th grade is the highest educational attainment for females in Afghanistan. Reportedly, Afghanistan has become the only country in the world to restrict girls from pursuing higher education.
Employment: The group has dissuaded women from seeking employment in every field. As the schools and universities were shut, consequently, there was a sharp decline in the number of female teachers. The women were robbed off of employment in the healthcare, service and other sectors, rendering them financially dependent. As per the UN reports, due to low to no income, whopping food-fuel prices combined with drought and outcomes of the Russia-Ukraine war, nearly all households headed by women reported insufficient food to eat.
Healthcare: As per the media reports, infant and child mortality rates has increased and deterioration of maternal healthcare conditions has become a common sight in Afghanistan. The nation has the world’s second worst rate of maternal death during childbirth and 16 out of every 100 women die giving birth. The accessibility of healthcare facilities has been made difficult for women from the minute the Taliban gained possession to power.
Mobility: Women have been confined to their homes and even though it is unsaid, metamorphically, they are serving punishment in their homes, under the Taliban’s regime. Lately, in 2022, women were banned from visiting parks and gymnasiums. If a woman wants to travel outside, she is ordered to cover her body completely and have a male related to her through blood or marriage accompanying her in public.
Apart from the aforementioned arenas, women’s freedom has been snatched away from her in other aspects as well, for instance, in Politics. Afghanistan in the only country in the world who has a all-male cabinet.
During 1996-2001, Taliban based its troubling identity
In 1996, when Taliban took over the nation, it mandated women to wear a Burqa at all times in public. It promulgated banning of all women from employment. The females of the nation, in 1998, were banned from attending general hospitals hence, curtailing access to quality healthcare facilities.
The Taliban, during its previous ruling period, established its troubling identity by introducing rudimentary and retrograding limitations. It restricted women from standing outside in their balconies, laughing loudly in public, wearing high-heeled shoes or applying nail paint. The Taliban brought changes to every text incorporating the term ‘women’. If a women in(advertently) did not follow the guidelines prescribed by the group, they were flogged, raped or killed.
Cut to 2023, the condition of females in Afghanistan has grown out to become more godawful.
After trailing through the path, it is to be noted in the words of Samantha Power, “Violence against women isn’t cultural, it’s criminal. Equality cannot come eventually, it’s something we must fight for now”.