Taliban urge Afghan women to stay home for their safety

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The claim that restrictions on women’s lives are a temporary necessity is not new to Afghan women. The Taliban made similar statements the last time they controlled Afghanistan, said Heather Barr, associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch.

“The explanation was that the security was not good, and they were waiting for the security to be better, and then the women could have more freedom,” she said. “But of course during those years they were in power, that moment never came – and I can promise you Afghan women hearing it today think it will never happen this time no more.”

Brian Castner, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International who was in Afghanistan until last week, said if the Taliban intended to treat women better, they should retrain their forces. “You can’t have a movement like the Taliban that has been functioning in a certain way for 25 years, and then just because you take control of a government, all the fighters and all the members of your organization do things differently. “, did he declare.

But, said Castner, there is no indication that the Taliban intends to keep that promise or any other promise of moderation. Amnesty International has received reports of fighters going door-to-door with lists of names, despite public promises by their leaders not to retaliate against Afghans who worked with the previous government.

“The rhetoric and the reality don’t match at all, and I think the rhetoric is more than just misleading,” Mr. Castner said. “If a random Taliban fighter commits human rights abuse or violation, it’s just some sort of random violence, that’s one thing. But if there is a systematic passage in people and in search of people, it is not a random fighter who is not trained – it is a system that works. Rhetoric is a cover for what is really going on.

In Kabul on Wednesday, women in parts of the city where the Taliban presence is minimal came out “in normal clothes, as was the case before the Taliban,” said a resident named Shabaka. But in the central areas where there were many Taliban fighters, few women ventured out and those who did wore the burqa, said Sayed, an official.

Ms Barr, of Human Rights Watch, said that the week since the Taliban said the new government would preserve women’s rights “within the bounds of Islamic law,” Afghan women she spoke to offered the same skeptical assessment: “They try to appear normal and legitimate. And that will last as long as the international community and the international press are still there. And then we’ll see what they really look like again.

It might not take long, suggested Ms Barr.

“This announcement just underscores for me that they don’t feel like they have to wait,” she said.

Cherif Hassan and Norimitsu Onishi contributed reports.


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