“Every day it gets a step worse, if it continues, well be back to the situation of the 90s within a year,” 21-year-old Nabeela from Kabul tells deCCeit. She took to the streets over the past few weeks to make her voice heard against the Taliban. The extremist group presented themselves as more moderate than the last time they were in power, but a short month later it becomes clear that many freedoms Afghans had acquired are now in danger.
Women shouldnt have to worry under the Taliban, a spokesman assured during his first press conference. For example, he promised that women could continue to work and study this time. In the 90s burkas were mandatory, girls were no longer allowed to go to school, and music was banned.
No top positions for women
Yet Nabeela is now deeply concerned about her future. She studies business economics at the university, but doesnt know if she can finish her studies, let alone if she has a chance to get a job in the future. “The Taliban have already announced that women can no longer work in top positions.”
The future is also uncertain for the Afghan womens national cricket team. Sports are prohibited and strict dress codes are back. Nabeela does have the mandatory black hijab hanging in the closet, but postpones wearing it for as long as possible.
Smarter and more radical
It is no surprise to womens rights activist and founder of the Dutch foundation Femmes For Freedom Shirin Musa. “They are moderate, but that is the narrative of the Taliban and that has been taken over by Western media.”
She said the new Taliban has wrongly received the benefit of the doubt from the media. “But theyre smarter, stronger and more radical than their predecessors. They have learned nice words that do well in the West, such as the promise for an inclusive government with space for women and minorities. But what they do in practice is very different.” The new government in Afghanistan consists exclusively of men from one Pashto tribe.
Last few weeks Afghans took to the streets in Kabul. They wore signs with texts like “no cabinet can ignore the presence of women!” Protests were condoned after the takeover, but that time seems to be over. To stop demonstrations, there was shot in the air, tear gas used.
It has also been seen in this video that demonstrating women were beaten with whips and sticks. Please note that these images can be seen as shocking:
“Ive been through terrible things during last weeks protests,” Nabeela says on the phone. “The Taliban do not adhere to any rule. If they want, they shoot or hit us.” This also happened with Nabeelas sister. “She was knocked on her kidneys by a Talib with a gun. And there was a shot in the air.”
We dont pick this up
“These women are extremely brave. It shows courage that in a neighbourhood where recent attacks have occurred, women stand up there and say, “We dont pick this up.” It shows that they would rather die than live under the Taliban,” Musa says.
Although there are men and women in the protests, the role of women is greater and more visible. Logical, correspondent Aletta André says: “Women have the most to lose under the Taliban.”
Earlier on 3 CCeit made this video about Afghanistans history:
It is feared that the Taliban wants to continue the strict rule of the 90s and history repeats itself. Afghans who fled to the Netherlands in order not to live under the Taliban would rather not think back to that time. “Women got whipped outside in front of everyone if they didnt follow the rules. I had a lot of nightmares about that,” 36-year-old Homa Ashkar told the CCeit earlier.
For Nabeela, there is no doubt that similar things can happen again in Afghanistan under the present Taliban. “I try to keep hope, but thats hard. They use violence against women and even children. Im sure well be back to the situation twenty years ago in a year, because theyve already gone down that road.”
Yet she doesnt want to stop demonstrating. “What would be the difference between me and my mother, who lived in the 90s, and accepted a life under the Taliban rule? My generation is different from the one that was back then. We are independent and we want to keep that.”
There is a demonstration ban in Afghanistan since the day before yesterday. Correspondent André: “I dont know if this is going to keep people off the streets, but the Taliban may be more violent than they have done so far. It wouldnt be crazy if that in everycase will discourage some of the people.”
Musa is cautiously optimistic: “These women dont just let the freedom of twenty years of emancipation and education diminish. But the international community should not look away from what is happening in Afghanistan.”