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June 23, 2023 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 494

The Taliban Government's Gender Barbarism In The Name Of Islam – Men Are Forcing Afghan Girls And Women Not To Read, Work, Speak, Or Sing

June 23, 2023 | By Mantasha Ansari*
MEMRI Daily Brief No. 494

Though we live in an era of modern democracies, right before our eyes a large number of Afghan girls and women are being forced by men not to read, work, speak, sing, or even walk on their own feet. Rapidly, these girls and women are being forced to disappear – into destitution, into economic misery, into slavery to men and the religion of Islam and into long-term physical and mental abuse.

Afghan girls from the sixth grade onward are banned from going to school. As of June 20, 2023, it has been 638 days since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban) banned teenage girls from schools, according to a journalist who tracks this abuse of girls' rights by the Taliban rulers. "Education is not a privilege; it is a basic right, a right Afghan women and girls continue to be denied," she tweeted.[1]


Afghan Taliban Minister for Higher Education Sheikh Neda Mohammed Nadeem

When the IEA took over Afghanistan in August 2021, the first thing the new rulers did was abolish Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs. In the same building that had housed the Women's Ministry, the Taliban rulers established the Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. This ministry has become a source of totalitarianism, barbarism, and authoritarianism in the lives of the young girls and women of Afghanistan, and it is accountable to no one but itself.

The Abuse Of Girls' Rights Unleashed By Afghan Taliban's Ministry Of The Promotion Of Virtue And The Prevention Of Vice

This Ministry's abuse of women's rights in Afghanistan is becoming widespread. The Afghan Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021. They established an interim government on September 7, 2021. Soon thereafter, Taliban officials started implementing a version of Islam no other Islamic countries implements by banning young girls from schools. For example, on September 16, just nine days after establishing the government, the Taliban Commission for Recruitment and Invitation in Kapisa province ordered a series of restrictions on women.

A Dari-language executive order issued by the commission imposed a total of 16 restrictions, most of which were against women, such as: It is mandatory for women and girls to cover their heads while sitting on roadsides; mobile phones equipped with cameras are forbidden for women and girls; women and girls must have a mehram (i.e., a close male relative) and wear the headscarf when out of the house; drivers must not allow women to ride in their vehicles without a headscarf; prayer leaders are urged to teach the significance of the headscarf based on the Quran and the Hadith.[2]


Taliban rulers have forbidden Afghan girls from attending school after the sixth grade (image: Twitter.com)

Taliban officials in other provinces began implementing policies that were similarly hostile to women. In November 2022, the Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice barred women from visiting public parks in Kabul.[3] It seems that the Taliban's version of Islam allows only men to get fresh air. In May 2022, the ministry ordered female television presenters to cover their faces.[4]

However, men at the ministry were not satisfied with women only covering their faces, so it banned women from all types of work. The ministry has been removing women from all government institutions. In October 2022, women were removed from the Media Violation Commission.[5] The ministry has ordered male tailors not to stich clothes for women in Parwan province or in other provinces of Afghanistan.[6]

In January 2023, Afghan Taliban forces entered the homes of women in Baghlan province. According to a media report, they were trying to find unmarried girls to forcibly marry them off.[7] In the northwestern Faryab province, Mawlawi Nabi Ghafoori, a radical Islamic scholar, said that girls should marry Taliban soldiers.[8] When women protested for their rights, the Taliban threatened to forcibly marry them off. For example, in Takhar province, when girls were protesting, the Taliban warned their families to stop them, otherwise the girls would be forcibly married.[9]

One of the biggest crimes the Taliban officials are committing is against the daughters of former Afghan soldiers who served the previous government. According to a video report that emerged in Baghlan province in late January 2023, the Taliban were not only killing former Afghan soldiers but were also forcibly marrying off their daughters.[10]  


Cartoon courtesy: Twitter.com

In Ghor province, a Taliban official of the natural disaster management department pressured a woman to have relationship with him, leading her to release a video statement.[11] This incident demonstrates how, despite their attempts to appear to be pious guardians of Islam, the Taliban are as corrupt as anybody. In the Dasht-e-Burchi area of Kabul city, Taliban members picked up and raped two girls in November 2022. This is an example of how the Taliban terrorists are using force against women. In this case, the locals were aware of the incident, but they were too afraid to speak out against the Taliban.[12]

In November 2022, Afghan Taliban officials took another step in the suppression of women. They banned women's public bath-houses and fitness clubs, saying the trainers were male. This decision was taken by the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.[13] In the name of virtue and Islam, the Taliban rulers are being extremely harsh with women – beating them in public, stoning them in stadiums, and lashing them in markets. In January 2023, former Afghan Member of Parliament Mariam Solaimankhil, a woman, posted a video of the Taliban stoning a woman in a crowded place.[14]

For the Taliban leaders, shari'a does not allow women to contest elections or become rulers or lawmakers. For this reason, the Taliban killed former Afghan lawmaker Mursal Nabizada near her house in Kabul on January 15, 2023.[15] In Daikundi province, the Taliban also whipped two women and one man for their alleged involvement in extra-marital relations.[16]

As Taliban Leaders Offer Shari'a Justifications For Abuse Of Women, Afghan Taliban Higher Education Minister Neda Mohammad Nadeem: "Even If Non-Muslim Countries Drop A Nuclear Bomb On Us, The Taliban Will Not Reverse The Decision"

The Taliban are justifying their actions against women on the basis of shari'a. Afghan Taliban Education Minister Sheikh Noorullah Munir also ordered changes in the education system, saying: "If we find content that contradicts shari'a in any textbook, we will have to replace it"; "if there are things that contradict shari'a law, the laws of our country, or our customs and traditions, we will have no choice [but to ban it];" "Some topics, like music, existed in the previous curriculum, but they are not compatible with our customs, religion, and traditions."[17]

Munir has also said: "If we find content that contradicts shari'a law in any textbook, we will have to replace it. Subjects such as physics, geology, chemistry, and engineering will remain intact, but if there are things that contradict shari'a law, the laws of our country, or our customs and traditions, we will have no choice but to take the necessary steps."[18]

In December 2022, the Taliban's Minister for Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem banned girls and women from entering colleges and universities, or any other higher educational institutions. He has also justified the Taliban's order forcing women to wear the headscarf: "Allah's religion does not allow us to accept what those unbelievers want. The headscarf is commanded by Allah's book. 'O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believers' women to veil themselves.' This is commanded by Allah's book."[19]


Afghan education activist Matiullah Wesa was arrested by the Taliban officials for advocating in favor of girls' education (image: Twitter.com)

He also stated: "Now, the unbelievers ask us not to declare the headscarf mandatory for women and to accept this. If we accept their demands, Allah's book says [to implement] the headscarf, while the unbelievers say [not to do so]. We have an obligation. We are Muslims and we claim [to establish] an Islamic system. We are obligated to force women to wear the hijab."[20]

Neda Mohammad Nadeem also said: "If they impose sanctions on us, drop a nuclear [bomb] on us, start a war against us again, or have any other plan, we are still compelled to implement the commandments of our religion. In this regard, we cannot help anyone, nor can we accept anyone's demands or worry that it will create problems for us," he added.[21]

As a result of the Taliban government's policies, Afghan girls and women cannot attend colleges and universities, whether private or government. On his Twitter account, Neda Mohammad Nadeem has justified his anti-women decisions by saying that girls, women, and female students were: failing to observe the Taliban's mandated hijab; traveling from one province to another for education; living in dormitories and hostels (which he deemed as prohibited under Islamic law); and studying in departments that were unnecessary for their educational needs.[22] According to the higher education minister, women and men attending the educational institutions leads to prostitution.[23]

Afghan Father Agonizes In Letter To Daughter: "My Dear Yesna! Because Of This Situation That's Befallen You, My Very Bones Are On Fire"

On May 23, 2023, an Afghan father was so disturbed by the Taliban's oppression of girls and women that he wrote a heartfelt letter to his new-born daughter. His letter reads: "My dear Yesna, a girl dearer to me than my own life! You were born two years ago, 19 days before the government collapsed. You were born into the worst circumstances of our time. My daughter! You are still small and you do not know what the fall of the government has brought upon you, but as your father, I am deeply affected by the thoughts of what kind of life is ahead of you. I am very worried about your uncertain future. I don't know if you can study in the future or not, if you will have freedom or not. All I know is a very difficult future awaits you.


The Afghan girl says, "Peace for me is when I can go to school." (image: Twitter.com)

"My dear daughter! As a father, I am truly sorry to see you and your gender in such a terrible and unbearable situation. Almost two years have passed since the 'republic' switched to 'Islamic Emirate.' For two years, bitter and unacceptable conditions have been imposed on the girls of this land.

"Today, girls like you do not know for what crime they have been sentenced to this mass torture. They cannot work, they cannot get an education, and they cannot have freedom, they cannot breathe, they cannot  progress, they cannot travel as they want, they cannot go out for fun, they cannot exercise, they cannot fall in love, they cannot make decisions in their lives and cannot serve themselves, their families and their society.

"My dear Yesna! Because of this situation that's befallen you, my very bones are on fire. Sometimes I blame myself a lot for this. Since my gender, men, do such injustice to you and justify it with religion, I am ashamed."[24]

* Mantasha Ansari is a Research Assistant at MEMRI's South Asia Studies Project.

 


[1] Twitter.com/BBCYaldaHakim/status/1667824207965700099, June 11, 2023.

[2] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9622, Afghan Taliban Executive Orders: 'Having English, American, And French Hairstyles Is In Violation Of Shari'a', Women Cannot Carry Cellphones Or Take Selfies, Shaving Beards And Having Music In Mobile Phones Are Outlawed, November 5, 2021.

[3] 8am.media (Afghanistan), November 10, 2022.

[4] 8am.media (Afghanistan), May 19, 2022.

[5] Tolonews.com (Afghanistan), October 28, 2022.

[6] Tolonews.com (Afghanistan), March 14, 2023.

[7] Twitter.com/i/status/1615401041490767872, January 17, 2023.

[8] 8am.media/a-mullahs-advice-in-faryab-to-marry-girls-with-the-taliban-either-be-a-mullahs-wife-or-a-mullahs-cow/, December 31, 2022.

[9] Etilaatroz.com/163134/, January 3, 2023.

[10] Twitter.com/i/status/1620889536246210560, February 2. 2023.

[11] Twitter.com/i/status/1617228209115873283, January 23, 2023.

[12]Kokchapress.com/%d8%af%d9%88-%d8%af%d8%ae%d8%aa%d8%b1-%d8%af%d8%b1-%d8%af%d8%b4%d8%aa%d8%a8%d8%b1%da%86%db%8c-%d9%85%db%8c-%da%af%d9%88%db%8c%d9%86%d8%af-%d8%a7%d9%81%d8%b1%d8%a7%d8%af-%d8%b7%d8%a7/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter, November 24, 2022.

[13] Af.shafaqna.com/FA/542884, November 13, 2022.

[14] Twitter.com/i/status/1615145080154918913, January 17, 2023.

[15] Pajhwok.com/ps/2023/01/15/2former-member-of-the-house-of-representatives-mursal-nabizadeh-was-killed-in-her-house-along-with-the-driver/, January 15, 2023.

[16] jomhornews.com/fa/news/157707/, February 8, 2023.

[17] MEMRI JTTM Report, Afghan Taliban Minister For Education: Taliban's Ban On Girls' Schooling Consistent With Afghan Culture, Islam, 'If You Stand In The Uruzgan Bazaar And Ask Elders Of Our Villages, You Will Find It Out Yourself', January 11, 2023.

[18] MEMRI TV Clip No. 9114, Taliban Minister Of Education Mullah Noorullah Munir: We Will Replace Educational Content That Contradicts Shari'a Law, Afghan Traditions, October 4, 2021.

[19] MEMRI TV Clip No. 10017, Afghan Taliban Minister Of Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem: If We Cared About Development Of People More Than About Hijab, We Would Not Go To War And Would Have Just Turned Bin Laden Over To The U.S., December 25, 2022.

[20] MEMRI TV Clip No. 10017, Afghan Taliban Minister Of Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem: If We Cared About Development Of People More Than About Hijab, We Would Not Go To War And Would Have Just Turned Bin Laden Over To The U.S., December 25, 2022.

[21] MEMRI TV Clip No. 10017, Afghan Taliban Minister Of Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem: If We Cared About Development Of People More Than About Hijab, We Would Not Go To War And Would Have Just Turned Bin Laden Over To The U.S., December 25, 2022.

[22] Twitter.com/NedaMohammadNad/status/1605974899532500994?s=20&t=Npbabjg2jIiG1x6g28g7DQ, December 22, 2022.

[23] Twitter.com/NedaMohammadNad/status/1605974899532500994?s=20&t=Npbabjg2jIiG1x6g28g7DQ, December 22, 2022.

[24] Rukhshana.com (Afghanistan), May 23, 2023.

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