Criminal punishment if dress code is violated
All respectable women must wear hijab
The best hijab
The body must not be revealed
Imprisonment for repeat offenders
Up to 3 days in jail
Government employees who violate the rule will be fired
The burqa is not the preferred hijab of many Afghan women
Men should observe their own hijab
Yet another blow to women's freedom
No school for girls past the 6th grade
A massive loss of rights
The Taliban took back power quickly, and life for women changed quickly too
When the US left, the Taliban took over
A hard life got even harder...
Life in rural Afghanistan had become more repressive in recent years
What is life like now for Afghan women?
The Taliban promised to
A terrorist group with misogynistic policies
Primary school classrooms are now gender-segregated
Girls are no longer be able to attend secondary school
Yet the Taliban said women will be allowed to study at university...
Some believe that the Taliban doesn't have the resources to provide segregated University studies
Curriculum revised to make it more Islamic
Women can no longer play sports
Female workers told to stay home
Jobs that only women can do are acceptable
The Afghan Women's Affairs Ministry shut down
Violent punishments or death for breaking Sharia law
Reports of women being flogged for breaking the rules
A woman was shot for not wearing a burqa in August
Afghan woman became fearful
Women have not had the chance to escape
Khalida Popal spoke to the media
Afghan women have lost so much...
The Afghan cycling team endured abuse
Women burned their degrees
Women feared losing what they fought so hard for
Young girls also at risk
Members of the Afghan Dreamers robotics team escaped the country
Education for girls is what is best for the country...
Meetings between men and woman are now forbidden
Taliban restrictions made work difficult
Educators feared for their students safety
It is a massive step back
The Taliban threatened a female high school principle
Decades of progress erased
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Criminal punishment if dress code is violated

Yet another Taliban decree is making life for the women of Afghanistan more difficult. The Taliban has always imposed restrictions on the clothing and bodies of Afghan women. However, the latest decree is the first for this regime in that violating the dress code results in criminal punishment.

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All respectable women must wear hijab

The New York Times reported that the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced on May 7 that it is “required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab,” or headscarf.

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The best hijab

Naturally, the Taliban ministry believes that the "best hijab" is the chadori, the blue-colored full-body veil also known as the burqa. However, a long black veil covering women from head to toe is also acceptable garb.

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The body must not be revealed

The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue said in a statement: “Any garment covering the body of a woman is considered a hijab, provided that it is not too tight to represent the body parts nor is it thin enough to reveal the body.”

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Imprisonment for repeat offenders

Unsurprisingly, those who do not follow the new decree will be punished. Male guardians in charge of an inappropriately dressed woman will be given a warning; however, repeat offenders will be imprisoned.

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Up to 3 days in jail

"If a woman is caught without a hijab, her mahram (a male guardian) will be warned. The second time, the guardian will be summoned [by Taliban officials], and after repeated summons, her guardian will be imprisoned for three days," according to the ministry's statement.

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Government employees who violate the rule will be fired

In addition, the ministry's spokesman, Akif Muhajir, said that government employees who violate the hijab rule will be fired.

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The burqa is not the preferred hijab of many Afghan women

Many Afghan women are not in agreement with this new decree. Marzia, a 50-year-old university professor from Kabul, spoke to Aljazeera about her feelings on the subject. She used a fake name to protect herself from the possible repercussions of speaking out.

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Men should observe their own hijab

Marzia said, “I am a practicing Muslim and value what Islam has taught me. If, as Muslim men, they have a problem with my hijab, then they should observe their own hijab and lower their gaze.”

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Yet another blow to women's freedom

The Taliban's latest decree is just another blow to Afghan women's rights, who have seen their freedom dramatically decrease since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021.

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No school for girls past the 6th grade

In March 2022, the Taliban went back on their decision to allow girls to study past sixth grade. Schools were reopened for the new school year for both boys and girls up to the sixth grade, but secondary school remains off-limits for girls.

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A massive loss of rights

Afghanistan women and girls are still struggling to accept the loss of rights they have suffered since the Taliban came back into power this past summer.

 

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The Taliban took back power quickly, and life for women changed quickly too

Pictured: Afghan women held a silent protest on September 19th for their education rights. News outlets report it only lasted 10 minutes. After a man came and spoke to the women, they all quickly left.

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When the US left, the Taliban took over

After 20 years, tens of thousands of deaths, and trillions of dollars, the United States of America left Afghanistan, ending the countries longest-ever war. It didn't take long for the Afghan government to collapse and for the Taliban to return to power.

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A hard life got even harder...

Life was already difficult for women in Afghanistan, even with Western occupying forces there to help guarantee some freedoms. Although huge gains were made in women's rights over the past twenty years, these changes were mostly experienced in the cities.

Pictured: Sept. 19th: An Afghan girl breaks down during a  protest against Talibans treatment of women and children in Afghanistan, at Jangpura, in New Delhi, India.

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Life in rural Afghanistan had become more repressive in recent years

In rural areas of the country, where the majority of women live, life was still very oppressive for Afghani women. So much so, that according to a 2018 TIME report, women in Afghanistan were still often married off into relationships unwillingly.

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What is life like now for Afghan women?

TIME magazine cited statistics from 2014 that 80% of those who died by taking their own life in the country were women. If life was almost unbearable for Afghani women before, what must it be like now, with the Taliban back in power?

Pictured: a young woman weeps at a protest in Kabul on September 8th, 2021. Protesters  marched through the Dashti-E-Barchi neighbourhood, a day after the Taliban announced their new all-male interim government with a no representation for women and ethnic minority groups.

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The Taliban promised to "allow women more freedoms"

The Taliban made statements to the media claiming that they have relaxed some of their rules compared to when they controlled the country from 1996-2001. However, the group's words of assurance that they will "allow women more freedoms" this time around offered little comfort to the women of Afghanistan.

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A terrorist group with misogynistic policies

The Taliban is known to endorse misogynistic policies that prevent women from being employed and becoming educated. Under the Taliban regime, the women of Afghanistan were deprived of even a basic education (girls were banned from schools), forbidden from driving, forced to wear burqas, and forbidden from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male family member.

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Primary school classrooms are now gender-segregated

In the weeks following their take over, the Taliban  began to crack down on women's rights in some of the most basic areas. For example, on Saturday the 18th of September, primary school students in Kabul returned to their lessons with gender-segregated classrooms.

Pictured: Girls studying in Herat, Afghanistan in September.

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Girls are no longer be able to attend secondary school

In addition, the BBC reported that girls are not be permitted to attend secondary school, which normally runs from ages 13-18. This means that by age 13, girls will no longer receive an education.

Pictured: Teenage boys attending school in Kabul on September 18th, 2021.

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Yet the Taliban said women will be allowed to study at university...

The revelation by the Taliban that girls will no longer be able to receive a secondary education is somewhat confusing. Early, the Taliban announced that women WOULD be allowed to study at university so long as they did it separately from men and adhered to a strict dress code (burqas are now mandatory).

Pictured: Students attend a class with a curtain separating males and females at a private university in Kabul on September 7, 2021.

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Some believe that the Taliban doesn't have the resources to provide segregated University studies

BBC News reported that some believe that the Taliban has chosen to exclude girls from secondary education because they do not have the resources to provide separate classes. By barring girls from secondary education, this will no longer be a problem.

Pictured: Veiled students hold Taliban flags while listening to a Taliban speaker before marching in a pro-Taliban rally at the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul on September 11, 2021.

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Curriculum revised to make it more Islamic

Students who are returned to the classrooms, both male and female in Afghanistan, found that classes were not quite like before in regards to the content. The new Afghani government announced that they were reviewing the curriculum and modifying it to make classes more Islamic.

Pictured: A class full of boys studying the Quran on September 18th, 2021.

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Women can no longer play sports

It was also reported that women's sports such as cricket are banned since female players would be "exposed" while playing. According to TIME, a television station in Australia quoted a Taliban spokesman who declared that the Taliban would ban all women's sports, and specifically women's cricket, in Afghanistan.

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"They might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered."

The Taliban's deputy head Ahmadullah Wasiq (pictured) said, “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.”

Photo: Screenshot from SBS World News

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Female workers told to stay home

According to NPR, on September 19th, the mayor of Kabul (who was appointed by The Taliban) told most of the city's female government employees to stay home. There was only one exception to the newest restriction on women imposed by the Taliban - women whose jobs cannot be performed by men were permitted to work.

Pictured: female police officers attending a Women's Day event on March 8th, 2021.

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Jobs that only women can do are acceptable

Hamdullah Namony, the mayor of Kabul, made a statement to the Associated Press regarding this decision: "There are some areas that men can't do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfill their duties, there is no alternative for it." One example given by Namony is female bathroom attendant, a job only a woman is fit to do.

Pictured: Afghan midwives at work, most likely this will still be a job only a woman can do.

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The Afghan Women's Affairs Ministry shut down

After several days of complaints from the employees of the Afghan Women's Affairs Ministry about losing their jobs, the Taliban shut the Ministry down. It was to be replaced by the Ministry for the "propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice." A department that went by the same name was notorious for enforcing strict religious rules when the Taliban was in power two decades ago.

Pictured: Afghan women activists calling for rights and justice in front of the former Women's Affairs Ministry on September 19th, 2021.

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Violent punishments or death for breaking Sharia law

The Taliban advocate for the following of Sharia law which authorizes the use of stoning, lashing, and other violent punishments against women accused of violating the Taliban strict interpretation of the law. The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will most likely be the enforcer of the strict religious law.

Pictured: Taliban fighters in the presidential palace in Kabul after the takeover on August 15th.

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Reports of women being flogged for breaking the rules

People Magazine reported that Afghani women were also stopped on the streets by the Taliban if they are walking unaccompanied by a male relative. According to the news outlet, some were beaten or whipped for breaking this rule.

 

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A woman was shot for not wearing a burqa in August

Indeed the Sharia law is being enforced by the Taliban. On the 17th of August, just hours after the Taliban spokesman made a statement saying, “Our women are Muslim and will be happy to be living under sharia law,” a woman was shot and killed in the Takhar province by Taliban fighters for failing to wear a burqa.

Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

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Afghan woman became fearful

Once the Taliban took over Kabul, Afghan women were instructed to destroy any evidence of activities they partook in that the Taliban may see as criminal.

Pictured: two Afghan woman holding their university degrees at a graduation ceremony in 2019.

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Women have not had the chance to escape

The Taliban took control over Afghanistan at a surprising speed, leaving women who would have fled little chance of escape. A source told 'The Guardian,' “Everything changed in 48 hours. Nobody was able to escape. If it [had been] a week or something, we would have sent them to neighbouring countries, but it all happened on the same day, the airport is closed, everywhere you see terrorists with guns.”

 

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Khalida Popal spoke to the media

Khalida Popal, the director of Girl Power Organization and the founder and former captain of the Afghan women's soccer team, is based in Denmark. The athlete and activist spoke to the media in August about the dangers Afghan women face now that the terrorist group has taken control of her home country.

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"...athletes are targets for terrorists"

In an interview with 'Sportico' Popal said that female athletes and coaches in Afghanistan "are on the run, their identities have been exposed, and they are targets for the terrorists." She spoke to various media outlets explaining that female athletes in Afghanistan should take drastic steps to erase evidence of their participation in sports.

Pictured: Afghanistan's Kimia Yousofi competes in the women's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 30th.

 

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"I'm telling them to remove their identities"

Khalida Popa told 'Reuters,' “Today I’m calling them and telling them, take down their names, remove their identities, take down their photos for their safety. Even I’m telling them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform.”

Photo: Instagram@khalida_popal_girlpower

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Afghan women have lost so much...

The athlete went on to say, “And that is painful for me, for someone as an activist who stood up and did everything possible to achieve and earn that identity as a women’s national team player. To earn that badge on the chest, to have the right to play and represent our country, how much we were proud.”

Pictured: Afghanistan National Women's Soccer Team in 2013.

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The Afghan cycling team endured abuse

'The Guardian' spoke to Afghan female cycling team members in July about their fears of a Taliban take over. The athletes had already contended with physical abuse and slurs for their choice to enjoy their sport before the Taliban's takeover.

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"They will just shoot us"

In a statement to 'The Guardian,' one member of the team said, “I really pray for the country to be a safe place for a woman like us, especially [for us to be able] to ride bikes on the streets. But I’m quite sure that the Taliban groups, the [Islamic State] and all of them, will never allow women to even study, to work, to have a job. So how is it possible they will let us do biking? I’m quite sure that they will never allow us; they will just shoot us.”

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Women burned their degrees

Female athletes were not the only Afghani women frightened by the Taliban. Those with higher education and a zest for learning also took precautions. In August, several Afghan women spoke to the media about the tragedy of burning their degrees and essentially erasing their professional and educational identities for fear of punishment by the Taliban.

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Women feared losing what they fought so hard for

An Afghan woman named Habiba, a 26-year-old university student, spoke to 'USA Today' about her worries for her future. “If I wear the burqa, it means that I have accepted the Taliban’s government," she said, “I’m afraid of losing the accomplishments I fought for so hard.”

Pictured: Afghan women studying to be midwives in 2012.

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Young girls also at risk

Girls such as those who formed part of Afghanistan's first girls' robotics team were also at risk and now must face a drastic change in lifestyle under Taliban rule. The Afghan Dreamers was based in Herat, Afghanistan, and comprised of girls aged 12 to 18. They were a motivated and talented group, building a ventilator out of used car parts amid last year's pandemic.

Pictured: members of the team in 2017.

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Members of the Afghan Dreamers robotics team escaped the country

Roya Mahboob, the founder of the team, an Afghan tech entrepreneur, and named one of 'Time' magazines most influential people of 2013, made a statement in August about the safety of the team members. According to the 'New York Times,' Ms. Mahboob indicated several team members were able to evacuate the country by plane to Qatar successfully.

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Education for girls is what is best for the country...

However, not all members of the team chose to evacuate, and their future is uncertain. In a statement to the 'New York Times,' Roya Mahboob said, “The Taliban have promised to allow girls to be educated to whatever extent allowed by Shariah law,” Ms. Mahboob said. “We will have to wait and see to what that means. Obviously, we hope that women and girls will be allowed to pursue dreams and opportunities under the Taliban,” she said, “because that is what is best for Afghanistan and in fact the world.”

 

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Meetings between men and woman are now forbidden

One of the first rules put in place by the Taliban was forbidding meetings between men and women. The BBC reported in August that according to an Afghan midwife who spoke to the news outlet, the first order from the Taliban was to forbid work meetings between men and women.

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Taliban restrictions made work difficult

The 29-year-old midwife also told the BBC, "There are a lot of restrictions now. When I go out, I have to wear a burka as the Taliban orders us, and a male has to accompany me." The young professional indicated that these restrictions have made fulfilling the duties of her job very difficult.

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Educators feared for their students safety

'NBC News' spoke to the female principal of a girls high school in Kabul. According to the news outlet, Nasreen Sultani had been fighting for the right of Afghan girls to an education for years. However, with the Taliban's takeover, she feared both for her own and her students' safety.

Pictured: a 10th grade classroom in a high school in Kabul this past July.

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It is a massive step back

In a statement to 'NBC News' last week, the educator said, "I tried, but we couldn't manage to make sure that women get out of this miserable situation."

Pictured: two women with their burqas lifted register as teachers in a classroom in 2001.

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The Taliban threatened a female high school principle

Ms. Sultani has run the school for the past ten years and has been threatened by the Taliban in the past. With the withdrawal of Western armed forces, she became scared of what the group might do to her and her students. She told 'NBC News' that the Taliban had told her, regarding the school, "You all might die."

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Decades of progress erased

Many women in Afghanistan and worldwide were horrified to see the Taliban return to power in the country. Women who  fought for decades to make progress are terribly disheartened to see that their efforts were slowly but surely being undone.

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