Sunday, May 28, 2023

Gender apartheid Taliban

By Ali Ahmad

The Taliban have imposed a harsh interpretation of ‘Sharia Law’ under their de facto rule after they ousted the U.S.-backed government of Ashraf Ghani in August. They have excluded women from public sector employment and have suppressed any women who demanded ‘food, work and freedom’. 

On the 3rd of March at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) in collaboration with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) held a public discussion on the humanitarian crisis and the suppression of Afghan women since the Taliban’s takeover in August last year. 

Heela Najibullah, author of “Reconciliation and Social Healing in Afghanistan” and a PhD candidate at the University of Zurich’s Religious Studies Department, and Horia Mosadiq, a human rights activist residing in London, were the two women from the Afghan diaspora who took part in the conversation. Jared Rowell, the DRC’s country director for Afghanistan, joined them via Zoom to give an overview of the humanitarian needs and problems under the Taliban’s reign.  

Horia Mosadiq’s remarks in this brief piece are part of a lengthier version of the speakers’ statements published by Diplomatic Aspects

An Afghan human rights activist, Mosadiq, described the Taliban government as a “gender apartheid regime”. The 20 years of hard-gained achievements of Afghan women under the auspices of international community vanished overnight after the U.S. withdrew its military and political support from Afghanistan. Mosadiq recalled that a day before the Taliban takeover, the Afghan women were ministers, ambassadors, journalists, entrepreneurs, judges, etc. On the 15th of August, women lost their jobs and “identities”, and were seen as “no-one”.     

„The Taliban regime is a gender apartheid regime. They do not recognize women as human beings. We are dealing with a government that simply does not recognize anyone who opposes their way of understanding of the Islamic law”, Mosadiq addressed a large audience present at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. “The Taliban do not recognize anyone besides their own followers,” she claimed.  

The struggle in 20 years to get their fundamental rights and access to education, work and healthcare was never easy, but Mosadiq never expected losing all those gains in such a short period of time. She blamed the international community and the former Afghan government to have paved the ground for what she called a “collective failure”.  

She expressed her frustration over the ‘depressing situation’ for the Afghan women under the Taliban. Female activists have disappeared, they have been tortured, beaten up, and put in detention for demanding their rights to access education and work. 

Mosadiq was forced to leave Afghanistan during the civil war and moved to Pakistan as a refugee in 1990s. She was forced to leave her home country for the second time because of the Taliban regaining power. She did not anticipate her children being the second generation of refugees in the United Kingdom.   

On the women’s front, Mosediq is determined to stand and fight the Taliban for women’s rights. She said that it was not easy in the presence of foreign troops to achieve what Afghan women achieved amidst war in the past 20 years. 

“Regardless of whether the Taliban gives us the right or not, women will always be there. We will stand, fight, and continue our struggle. It wasn’t rosy in the past, but we managed to get so much done in the wake of everything that was happening in Afghanistan. We will survive and we will be there,” promised resilient Mosadiq.   

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