Afghan women seek action and not just words from former allies

Women’s protest in Kabul. Oct. 2022.

A group of women’s rights activists said Tuesday the European Union’s statements condemning restrictions imposed on them will have no effect on the Taliban and instead Afghanistan’s former allies should take practical steps against the group to stop them from oppressing women.

This comes in response to a statement on Monday by the EU condemning the additional restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women, including the newly announced rules barring them from entering public parks and gyms.

“These restrictions come in addition to the already severe violations by the Taliban of the rights of Afghan women and girls – in contradiction to Taliban’s own initial promises. Afghan women and girls remain deprived of secondary education, face restrictions in their travel and movement, and are excluded from most aspects of public and economic life,” the EU said.

The EU called on the Taliban to honor Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, and to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the Afghan population.

Sahar Sahil, an activist, said practical steps are needed to be taken against the Taliban as statements will not stop them from imposing restrictions against women.

“No one can ignore the restrictions that have been imposed over the past 15 months and are increasing,” she told Amu on Tuesday. “The organization sends a condemnation and a statement anytime an oppression is done against women in Afghanistan.”

“The people of Afghanistan are losing all their freedoms and have been deprived of a normal life,” said Mahbuba Islami, a university lecturer. “The international community should never recognize the Taliban if it wants to keep pressure on the group.”

But a former Afghan MP and an activist, Shukria Barikzai, said any statement from international organizations regarding the situation in Afghanistan is a type of warning for the Taliban.

“Such statements are in fact a support to the women in Afghanistan,” she added. “Taliban with such acts are not only challenging themselves but Afghanistan too.”

This comes after the Taliban imposed a ban on women entering public parks last week. This latest ruling joins a growing list of restrictions against women that the Taliban has introduced in the past 15 months since taking control of the country.