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Shubhiksha GV, Pune

“Everything will be under the influence of Sharia Law… There is no need for anyone to rebel,” Zabihullah Mujahid, official spokesperson of the Afghan Taliban Government, addressed the press on the second anniversary of the Taliban’s ascension to power. According to the Associated Press, the Taliban cabinet is adamant about not revoking the ban on women’s right to education.

The Afghan government was completely overthrown on Aug. 15, 2021, by the Taliban. The country has since been governed by the principles of Sharia Law. The government has been keen on policing the “morality” of its citizens. This government brought in older practices like public flogging and excommunication to discipline the masses. Their ascension as the ruling class has socially set the country back for decades.

The worst hit is the women of the country. They have lost everything they fought for for 20 years in under 2 years. Many feminist activists are dubbing this gender apartheid.“Gender Apartheid”. The women have been revoked of their basic right to get an education, despite universities being willing to enroll them. 

Similar restrictions on women’s fundamental rights were implemented throughout the Taliban government’s 1996–2001 rule. The government stated in September 2021 that there would be gender segregation at the university level and required women to wear head coverings (hijabs/scarves), only for women to be prohibited from attending in December 2022. By March 2022, all secondary schools for girls (beginning in the sixth grade) had been closed permanently, sparking demonstrations all around the world.

It went further to impose strict dress codes for women, covering them from head to toe and banning them from traveling without the accompaniment of men. Punishments for men, including serving jail time, were put in place if women were found trespassing under any of these rules.

More bans followed, including shutting down beauty salons, taking part in or visiting any public facility like gyms or public parks, and working for NGOs and other sectors. They went further and removed women from public offices and took on judicial roles. With such impositions, they had essentially made sure that women played no social role outside of the house they were in.

The Taliban government’s April 2023 ban on women holding any UN positions, however, was the heaviest blow. The UN has to urge employees to restrict work-from-home arrangements. Afghan Women are still actively protesting for their basic rights, but the government is actively claiming that they are “open-minded” and are governing their citizens as “equals”.