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In 2022, Afghan women face successive setbacks


2022 is the year of conflicts erupting… and an attempt to redraw “maps”

It may be a matter of superficiality and ignoring the facts if we consider that 2022 was a normal year, because the events that took place in this year were truly exceptional and affected their consequences and effects, and perhaps their specificity, on the whole world, because some of them were an attempt to redraw maps.

Given that the world’s events are many and we cannot go over all of them, we will try to address the most important ones, such as the explosive demonstrations in Iran a few months ago, which shook the Iranian regime from within, and sparked mixed reactions across the world, and the Ukraine war and its economic and geopolitical effects on The countries of the world, especially the European continent, the departure of Queen Elizabeth, who formed a large part of Britain’s modern history, and enjoyed great popularity around the world, the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan and the challenge of China, and the visit of President Joe Biden to the Middle East and the responses it provoked. Actions, the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia and his holding of more than one summit in what can be considered a repositioning of Beijing towards the Middle East, and a reorientation by some Arab countries towards Beijing.

If the year 2022 was the year of crises and tribulations for Afghanistan in general, then it was the year of disasters for women and the feminist movement, especially in this afflicted country. In fact, the women continued to receive blows one after the other, until we reached the prevention of girls from going to their universities and receiving education, as if the problems of poverty, ignorance and backwardness were not enough for them, in addition to the prevention of a job, and the prevention of going out unless accompanied by a mahram, so the deprivation of university education came. As a tragic conclusion to the events of this year in this country under the yoke of sanctions.

Women’s Library

As the saying goes in Afghanistan: “You have to fight for your rights, they will not be given to you.” Julia Parsi and her colleagues know what that means. Together, these women founded the “San Library” (Women’s Library) in the capital, Kabul, where visitors can read, learn and exchange ideas – even amid the ruling “Taliban” movement. The hardliners announced their latest anti-women decrees last Tuesday: From now on, women will not be allowed to attend universities.

The new ban adds to a long list of restrictions imposed on women since the hardliners took power in August 2021. In many cases, women were no longer allowed to return to their jobs, then they were prevented from riding taxis on their own, and girls were prevented from going to school from the seventh grade. . In Kabul, for example, a few months ago it became taboo for women to visit public parks and fitness studios.

sizing activists

However, the activists around Julia Parsi do not want to be held in check, so they frequently organize protests against the government and the restrictions imposed by the Taliban. “I want to convey the voice of Afghan women to the outside world,” says Parsi in her library, among colorful children’s books and many classics of Afghan literature.

Similar to Iran, the protests against those in power in Afghanistan have a feminine face. The slogan of the protests for Iranian and Kurdish women is “Women, Life, Freedom”, and for Afghan women it is equivalent to “Bread, Work, Freedom”. This protest slogan constantly drives them to the streets of Kabul, Herat, or Mazar-i-Sharif. “With every new restriction on women, we go out again,” says Parsi, adding that even beatings, threats and arrests could not stop the female demonstrators.

The Taliban’s broad restrictions on working women, in particular, present major problems for many Afghan women, like Mina, who has had to look after her children on her own since her husband died as a soldier in the war. At a workshop by Afghan activist Leila Heidari, 35-year-old Mina found a way to take care of her family.

In western Kabul, Haidari, whose famous restaurant was closed by the Taliban, has set up an institute where women learn to make clothes and jewelry. This way they can earn an income afterwards. At the institute, Heidari also offers courses in subjects such as English, mathematics, and programming. This is not unusual, as there are quite a few private schools that continue to educate girls.

Other women have found one of the few opportunities to make a living working for the Taliban. When Shasta decided to become a police officer, her husband was skeptical at first. “But now he supports me,” says the 23-year-old, inside a simple classroom at the police academy in eastern Kabul. The Taliban here train about 500 policewomen. The trainees cover their hair with a headscarf, and their mouth and nose with a mask. In the shooting practice room, several AK-47s are on the table.

Separation of the sexes

Because of the prevailing gender segregation, policewomen are still needed when searching other women, or homes for example. Almost all the women here are the heads of their families, and some of them hide from their surroundings that they are working. In the yard there is a playground, where children of police trainees can play freely. “I want women to have the opportunity to turn to female police officers if they experience violence at home, for example,” Shesta says. Policewomen are aware that they may also have to use violence against other women, for example during demonstrations.

No end in sight to the protests

There is no end in sight to the women’s protests anytime soon. “For me, sitting still is not an option,” says Alia Wesi, a young human rights activist from Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan. Even after the university ban now imposed on women, protests continue to escalate. Male students at at least one university also refused to take their exams in solidarity with the women.

Every step towards freedom and education can cost the women of this country dearly, and sometimes their lives as well, because of the constant threat of terrorism. When a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Dasht-e-Barchi district of Kabul in September, more than 50 young women were killed, who were preparing for a university entrance exam together at a private educational institution. “She was very excited about the exam,” recalls Hajar’s family, who, like her cousin Marcia, never returned from the course.

Fatemeh Amiri survived the attack with serious injuries and lost her left eye.

“I was hiding under the desk,” Fatima recalls. “When I opened my eyes, my hands were covered in blood, and there were dead people around me.” Despite the horrific events, Fatima passed the university’s next entrance exam, with the highest score.

Thanks to a fundraiser for the famous Afghan singer, Farhad Darya, Fatima can now treat her injuries in Turkey. Fatima is determined to return to Afghanistan, even if she continues her education abroad. “I am convinced that one day better times will come again in Afghanistan,” she said.

• Every step towards freedom and education can cost the women of this country a heavy price, and sometimes their lives as well, because of the constant threat of terrorism.

• The broad restrictions imposed by the Taliban on working women, in particular, present major problems for many Afghan women.

The Taliban prevents Afghan women from working in non-governmental organizations

The Ministry of Economy of the “Taliban” government announced that Afghan women were banned from working in local and international non-governmental organizations, after “complaints” about their non-compliance with the imposed dress code.

“Serious complaints have been received regarding non-compliance with hijabs and other rules and regulations related to women’s work in local and international organizations,” said the ministry responsible for approving licenses for NGOs operating in Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed that this had been directed to the NGOs. The ministry added in its letter that “in the event of neglecting the directive, the organization’s license will be revoked.”

Despite its promises to adopt more flexible policies, the “Taliban” returned to the strict interpretation of Sharia law that characterized its first period in power (1996-2001). Kabul ■ A.F.B

“An atomic bomb will not deter us from preventing women’s education”

The Minister of Higher Education of the “Taliban” movement, Muhammad Nadeem, said on Sunday that “if they drop an atomic bomb on us, we will not back down” from the decision to ban university education for women.

He added, “We are ready for sanctions imposed on us by the international community.” agencies