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What does it mean to be a woman in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover?

With the Taliban in power once again after 20 years, Afghan women find themselves living in constant fear and playing the most painful and disturbing waiting game of their lives.

Young girls being forced into marriage, female bank workers getting kicked out of their jobs, and activists' homes being raided. These are now some very common occurrences for a woman living in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. Regardless of age, they now all find themselves reliving the same terrorizing situation.

The Taliban, a group of “professed Islamic purists and Afghan patriots”, gained control of Afghanistan once again with the use of military power. Known as ‘students’ in the Pashto language, their goal was to restore peace and security and enforce their own version of Sharia, or Islamic law, that combined Deobandi fundamentalism, and militant Islamism.

The last time the Taliban held power was in the late ’90s, and repression was memorably a defining feature of their government style. This was especially true for women. Girls could not attend school; women could not hold jobs or leave their homes without a male relative. Of course, anyone who was against them and their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam was severely punished, leaving no room for protest or revolt.

Since their recent takeover, the group has insisted its new era in charge will be more moderate, supposedly including women in society. However, they continue refusing to guarantee that women's rights will not be stripped back like they were twenty years ago, and many recent stories have suggested that women have already been prevented from executing their usual daily activities.

Zarifa Ghafari for example, the first female mayor Afghanistan has ever seen, describes her current situation, living in fear of the possible consequences that having a career and position of power as a woman can bring to her and her family. "They will come for people like me and kill me. I can't leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?" said the young 27-year-old.

They are currently advising women to stay in their homes since soldiers are supposedly “not trained to respect them”. The Taliban’s spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, declared recently that group leaders "are happy for them to enter the buildings but want to make sure they do not face any worries" when referring to how the group was finding ways to ensure that women are not disrespected. He also mentioned how soldiers "keep changing and are not trained."

Women and children now await in silence as the group continues to determine their present and future. They currently find themselves living in uncertainty whether it be if they will be able to go to school and get proper education, if they will be married by the age of ten, or if they will be able to leave the house on their own and make money for their families.


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