Afghanistan: back to radical Islamism
1996-2001: Almost everything forbidden
The burqa
Women could not make a sound
No sports, and no school for girls past 10
Women's health care was limited
Cover the windows
More prohibitions on women: do not run
Do not wash in streams
No makeup or manicure
Laughter forbidden
Repression and poverty
Stoning
Mutilation and other forms of extreme violence
Death penalty for gay people
No Western clothing
Music and dance
Theatres and cinemas closed
Destruction of the Buddhas of Bāmiyān
Blown away
Reconstruction
Forbidden kites
Will Afghanistan return to that past?
The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
(1/23)
Afghanistan: back to radical Islamism

The Taliban, who took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, want to present themselves to the world as different from those who ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. Yet, recent reports from the central Asian country speak of public hangings and the replacement of women from public life.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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1996-2001: Almost everything forbidden

If we remember the endless list of prohibitions and punishments that the Taliban imposed during its rule in the 1990s, we enter into an almost dystopian territory, impossible to believe. Almost everything was banned. Especially for women.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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The burqa

Under Taliban power, women were forced to wear a burqa, a garment that completely covers a person and only allows them to see through a suffocating net in front of the eyes.

 

 

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Women could not make a sound

Women could not work, they were forced walk the streets accompanied by a man, and they were forbidden to make noise when they walked outside their homes.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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No sports, and no school for girls past 10

Sports were also prohibited and, at age 10, girls had to drop out of school.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Women's health care was limited

Women were allowed to work in hospitals caring for other women, but at the same time, the number of women's hospitals was reduced, which created serious health problems.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Cover the windows

In some places the regime demanded that people blacken the windows of their homes, so that no one could see the figure of a woman without a burqa through the glass.

 

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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More prohibitions on women: do not run

Among the long list of things women could not do under Taliban rule in the 1990s was running down the street. Their step was required to be slow and "dignified."

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Do not wash in streams

In rural areas, women were prohibited from washing clothes in rivers and streams.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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No makeup or manicure

All makeup (including nail care, for example) was outlawed for women under Taliban rule. To be caught with painted nails could mean a beating in the middle of the street by the moral militias who tirelessly patrolled the streets.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Laughter forbidden

A woman could not laugh in public. That was, according to Taliban norms, an immoral thing to do and should therefore be avoided.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Repression and poverty

The restrictions of labor, education, and social life for women made it a common sight in 1990s' Afghanistan to see war widows (discreetly) begging on the street. It was impossible for them to make a living.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Stoning

Physical punishment was inflicted with great cruelty. Adultery was punished by stoning.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Mutilation and other forms of extreme violence

If we talk about punishments, the Taliban domain introduced the amputation of hands to punish robbery. The sentence of beating with sticks was reserved for those who drank (which was of course prohibited), played a game of chance, or broke any other moral norm. When a serious crime affected a specific family, the family was given the opportunity to shoot the offender to death.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Death penalty for gay people

Homosexuality was punishable by the death penalty and, in addition, the Taliban introduced a specifically sadistic mode of execution for these cases: the convicted person was buried under a brick wall.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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No Western clothing

Men were forbidden to shave: they had to wear a beard and dress without a trace of Western clothing.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Music and dance

No music or public dancing was allowed.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Theatres and cinemas closed

Posters with Bollywood stars, as you can see in the picture, only returned after the withdrawal of the Taliban. The regime had a radical interpretation of the discouraging statements that Islam writings make about human representation. Therefore, they closed cinemas and theatres, banned figurative painting, and even destroyed some historic, artistic works of immense value.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Destruction of the Buddhas of Bāmiyān

In 2001 the Taliban destroyed a unique artistic vestige in the world: the Buddhas of Bāmiyān, immense sculptures carved into the side of a cliff. It is estimated that they were built in the 5th or 6th century.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Blown away

There was a very powerful international campaign to prevent the Taliban from dynamiting the Buddhas. Pakistan - a traditional ally of the Taliban - begged for them to respect the monument, and other Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Emirates clamoured against this aberration. However, eventually the sculptures were destroyed and the only remainder was the gap that they had occupied in the mountain.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Reconstruction

After the fall of the Taliban by the American invasion, experts launched a restoration project of the Bāmiyān Buddhas, but it has appeared impossible to reconstruct the beauty of those stone giants eroded by centuries of wind and sun.

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Forbidden kites

Some prohibitions under the Taliban were difficult to understand, since they don't seem to relate very clearly to any religious or moral doctrine. For example, there was the ban on flying kites (which inspired Khaled Hosseini's famous novel 'The Kite Runner').

The harshest Taliban laws and punishments
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Will Afghanistan return to that past?

The recent Taliban victory in Afghanistan has raised fears of a return to the old prohibitions and punishments of the years 1996-2001. According to some testimonies, they have already returned. Officially, though, the Taliban leaders assure the world that they will be more moderate this time. Are they telling the truth?

(Image: Sohaib Ghyasi / Unsplash)

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