By Ali Ahmad
“I protest against the Taliban in Vienna to remind women in Afghanistan that we will raise their voice and support them. Through our activism in Europe, we want to give hope to women living under the Taliban’s oppressive rule. We feel their pain, and we do not forget them.”
These are the words of Nabila Naseri from the Afghan Youth Association in Austria (AYAA), an Afghan diasporic organization based in Vienna. Forced to flee with her husband and five children to Austria in 2011, Naseri worked as a lawyer in Afghanistan representing victims of domestic violence.
On the 25th of September, Naseri and several Austrian feminists came alongside Afghan women at ‘Platz der Menschenrechte’ to demand that the Taliban not be recognized as the legitimate government of Afghanistan by European countries. The Austrian feminists expressed their solidarity with Afghan women recognizing them as the most vulnerable population group who have suffered under the harsh rule of the Taliban since the fall of U.S.-backed government on the 15th of August.
The organizing associations of this event included One Billion Rising Austria (OBRA), Österreichischer Frauenring, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and AYAA. One of the main objectives of these organizations at this event was to unite women against oppressive and brutal regimes like that of the Taliban and to demonstrate their solidarity with the women of Afghanistan.
During her speech to the participants of this event, Naseri said “fathers decide their daughter’s marriages, husbands decide whether to divorce their wives, brothers restrict their sister’s freedom, and the Taliban choose what women should wear”. “How can women live if men decide for them from birth to death?” Naseri asked.
The Taliban banned women and girls from attending schools and universities when the group was in power between 1996 and 2001. Since the Taliban’s second seizure of power in August last year, the Taliban’s military have imposed a harsh interpretation of the Islamic code of conduct especially in respect to women. Employed women, except for healthcare workers, were ordered to stay at home until the security situation improves. Girls are however able to attend school up until the 6th grade. In addition, arrangements are being made to segregate men and women at universities.
“The only way to help the Afghan women and children is if the EU and the rest of the world decide to not recognize the Taliban. The world should not be part of the Taliban’s horror and their crimes against women,” Naseri pleaded.
Through her feminist activities and engagement with female organizations, Naseri’s objective is to call on the European Union to add pressure to neighboring countries such as China, Iran and Pakistan for their destructive roles in Afghanistan. “If China recognizes the Taliban, it will be a disaster,” said Naseri.
Building a network with powerful feminist organizations is part of Naseri and her AYAA’s aim. With the support of European women, the AYAA intends to bring to attention the agenda of Afghan women to European politicians as well as to various sectors of European society. Naseri pleads, “Don’t forget Afghan women and don’t leave them alone.”
Note: The Taliban de facto Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Mutaqi, is visiting Norway from 23 to 25 January to hold meetings with the U.S. and EU officials on human rights and humanitarian aid. ADN finds it important to repost this article from September last year on Diplomatic Aspect.