Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Women Prone to Taliban’s Ideology

Afghan women have aired their concern about return of the Islamic Emirate on several occasions and fear that its return will jeopardize their fundamental rights and freedoms. The Taliban still exercise their radical ideology towards women in their dominated areas and restrict their liberties.
There are many reasons behind women’s concern: First, Afghan women have been sidelined in the peace talks and were barely provided the platform to have their say. Although some women participated in informal talks with the Taliban in Moscow this year, they either could not represent all women in Afghanistan or their words fell on deaf ears. In the peace agreement between the Taliban and US representatives, drafted after nine rounds of talks, women’s concerns were not addressed.
Second, women made great strides under the post-Taliban nascent democratic administration and were entitled equally with men. Their active participation in social, political, and economic spheres is beyond doubt. For instance, Afghan women have no restriction to run for presidential elections or serve in police ranks. They hold high political positions and proved their qualifications and talents in significant posts. Now with the return of the Islamic Emirate, women fear that all their past achievements will be at stake.
It is believed that some political figures, who practice parochial mindset towards women’s rights and liberties, are likely to support the Taliban’s stance regarding women. As a result, the leader of Hazb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar views women’s rights through the prism of Taliban-like Islamic Sharia. In his recent interview with BBC, he said that the “Law of Elimination of Violence against Women”, which was endorsed by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was against Islamic tenets and Afghans’ cultural values. According to him, that law had been copied or translated from those of western, which are against Islamic tenets. He also talked against women’s shelters, built to protect women from domestic violence, adding that those shelters were “the most insecure” place for women and would disrupt family relations. Hekmatyar was also against co-educational system in Afghanistan, which has not been resisted by Afghans so far. Further, he denied that Afghanistan had been the worst place for women adding that the level of violence against women had been exaggerated. Meanwhile, he preferred family issues to be resolved by tribal councils rather than by country’s courts.
Hekmatyar, who runs for president, joined the Afghan government through a peace deal and would approach women through Islamic Sharia rather than a democratic law if he wins the elections, which seems impossible.
With this in mind, the Taliban are also likely to treat women radically if they gain power, which is the main cause for concern.
Third, women are highly vulnerable to radical ideology and political upheaval. In the course of history, Afghan women were persecuted to a great extent and their rights and freedoms were curtailed for ideological reasons. They were discriminated on a large scale and bore the brunt of violence during the Taliban regime (1996 – 2001). That is, gender discrimination was widespread during both Mujahidin and Taliban regimes.
If peace talks are resumed, women’s concerns should be put on the table and their rights and freedoms have to be protected at all costs. The fundamental rights of women, stated in the constitution, should not be compromised. In other words, safeguarding the rights and dignity of women and abiding by the constitution should be set as preconditions for talks. It is believed that Afghan people will not accept a peace deal that would put their rights at stake or undo the past achievements since they made great sacrifices for achieving all those democratic principles. 
Women should also be provided seats around the negotiating table to have their say and urge the Taliban not to enter Afghanistan with their past ideology, which was extremely aggressive and radical.
The Taliban should understand that Afghans, mainly women, are not ready to accept their radical ideology. In the upcoming presidential elections, Afghans will flock to ballot boxes to show that they support democracy and are proud to have participation in political issues.
Besides the Taliban, both the Afghan government and its international allies should advocate women’s rights and freedoms at the peace table. If peace deal is signed between the Taliban and their interlocutors, the Taliban should no more be able to impose their warped mind on Afghan people or seek to interpret women’s rights through their own radical ideology. Since the Taliban have claimed that their ideology had been moderated, they should abide by Afghan constitution and respect the rights of each individual across the country.