Women’s movement condemns Taliban’s use of sharia ‘as tool for repression’

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Purple Saturdays Movement has issued a scathing critique of the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, denouncing it as an institution that violates fundamental human rights, particularly targeting women, religious minorities, and vulnerable groups.

In a statement released recently, the movement accused the ministry of turning the enforcement of Sharia law into a means of repression and interference in various aspects of Afghan society, including the most private areas of citizens’ lives. The ministry, according to the movement, has been responsible for harassment, humiliation, arrest, torture, and even murder of citizens, with a particular focus on women.

The statement highlighted the case of Marina Sadat, a 23-year-old woman who was found dead after being detained by employees of the Taliban’s vice and virtue ministry on December 19, 2023. Her body was discovered 23 days later, on January 11, 2024, in the Chok Arghandai area of Paghman district in Kabul province. Marina’s parents were also arrested and have been imprisoned by the Taliban since February 2023, now over 147 days, the statement said.

The Purple Saturdays Movement called on female protesters to raise their voices for the release of Marina Sadat’s parents and urged international organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch to pressure the Taliban for their immediate release.

The movement also welcomed a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice but urged the UN not to focus solely on this ministry. Instead, they emphasized that the international community should hold the entire Taliban government accountable for its actions.

The statement concluded by urging UNAMA, the United Nations, and the global community to exert more pressure on the Taliban, warning against any efforts to whitewash or support the Taliban’s actions.