With banners and a bouquet of flowers, a group of women protested against the Taliban on Saturday (4) in Kabul, asking members of the Islamic fundamentalist group to respect their right to education and work and give them a chance to participate of the new government.
However, members of the faction interrupted the demonstration, as shown by images broadcast by the private TV station Tolo News. According to one of the participants in the act, the combatants used tear gas and “tasers”, small stun guns, against women.
“They also hit the women over the head with a gun magazine, and they got bloody. There was no one we could ask why,” a protester identified as Soraya told Reuters news agency.
One of the protesters told the American newspaper The New York Times that the protesters numbered around 100 women until they were interrupted by agents of the fundamentalist group with batons, gun butts and tear gas.
“When I tried to resist and continue the march, one of the armed Taliban pushed me and hit me with a sharp metal object,” said the Afghan woman, identified as Nargis, who said she fainted after the attack.
Another protester identified as Rukhshana claimed that the protesters were “treated like animals”. “We wanted to claim our rights and show that we exist. We worked hard, we studied and we struggled, we made sacrifices, we lost our husbands,” she told the newspaper. “We will continue our fight until we regain our rights with this government, which took the country by force.”
A video of Afghan activist Narjis Sadat with a bleeding head was widely shared on social media. In the post, she claims to have been beaten by militants at the protest.
In response to reports of the protest, Muhammad Jalal, a Taliban leader, said on Twitter that “most women are happy” in the country and that the protest was a deliberate attempt to cause riots, as “these people do not represent even 0 .1%” of Afghanistan.
The violence on Saturday began after Taliban forces stopped women from marching towards the presidential palace, according to Tolo News footage, at the fourth women’s rally in a week in the country, which returned to Taliban command on 15 March August.
When they first came to power, between 1996 and 2001, extremists banned older women and girls from studying and working.
This time, the group has been trying to make good the narrative that it will be more moderate. On Sunday (29), he said he would authorize the presence of women in universities, as long as they are separated from men. “The people of Afghanistan will continue to have higher education in accordance with sharia rules [lei islâmica], which prohibits mixed classes,” Taliban Minister of Higher Education, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, said in an assembly.
At the first press conference since the takeover of Kabul, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said the Taliban wanted peace, denied reprisals to opponents and said women’s rights would be protected — but the caveat, within the “framework of Islam”. was already clear from that first pronouncement.
In the past, radical interpretation of Islamic law has taken it to extremes in regions controlled by groups such as the Taliban, the Islamic State or the government of Saudi Arabia. Under the rule of the fundamentalist group in Afghanistan, for example, women were a prime target of brutal repression.
Although there are different degrees of application, as a rule women are relegated to subordinate roles in public life and elevated to the status of “queens of the household”. In power, the Taliban took this aspect to paroxysm. The education of girls had to be done at home, there was no public health for women, and the bodies completely covered by burkas symbolized such repression to the West.
Burkas are traditional among Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s majority ethnicity to which the Taliban belong, but their mandate has shocked the world. In practice, they have continued to be used by many women over the past 20 years, particularly outside Kabul. The Taliban said this time it would demand the wearing of the hijab, the veil that covers the head and shoulders and leaves the face exposed.
Over the two decades of Western presence, progress has been made. Schools and hospitals opened for women, and they integrated the armed forces and the police.