Being a woman in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime

Being a woman in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime

Over the past few days, you've probably seen some impressive images of panic-stricken Afghans trying to flee their country by any means necessary. 20 years later, the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. 

What interests us today in this article is the condition of women in this country.

Who are the Taliban?

The Taliban are an Islamic fundamentalist movement whose aim is to found an Islamic state that will apply an extreme version of Sharia law. In the 1980s, the Taliban were theology students trained in schools in Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan. In 1979, during the Cold War, the USSR invaded Afghanistan, and when the Soviets withdrew in the 90s, civil war broke out. The Taliban united around one man: Mullah Omar. Their aim is to "pacify" Afghanistan and establish an Islamic government.

In 1996, the Taliban came to power, and remained in power until 2001. The September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. soil killed 3,000 people, and following these tragic events, U.S. President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban, home to al-Qaeda (the organization behind the attacks), hand over bin Laden (the leader of al-Qaeda). The Taliban refused, and a UN coalition led by the United States forced them to capitulate. What followed was 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan, violence and war for the Afghan people.

But on February 20, 2020: former US President Donald Trump will sign an agreement with the Taliban (the Doha Agreement). This agreement provides for the gradual withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan by May 2021, in exchange for security guarantees and the opening of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government to achieve a ceasefire.

But on August 15, 2021, having already been gaining territory in Afghanistan for several months, the Taliban took control of Kabul and the presidential palace, officially taking over Afghanistan.

What are the consequences for women of the Taliban's rise to power?

Logically, the Taliban's return to power is worrying many countries and NGOs around the world. Women are the first victims of their return. 

We know that when they were in power from 1996 to 2001, many things were forbidden. Culture was forbidden: no right to music, television, dance or human representations. Women in particular had no rights. Specifically, they were not allowed to go out alone, without a male presence, nor to go to work, and little girls were not allowed to go to school. 

In general, violence was a daily occurrence for Afghans. 

Today, in the territories of Afghanistan already controlled by the Taliban for several months, young girls have already been kidnapped for forced marriage, and even if they can go to school, it's only until the age of 7.

Despite their assurances on August 17, 2021 that they would "respect women's rights within the framework of Islamic law", their arrival in power is seen in the West as a major threat to women's rights (and human rights more generally). Former Afghan Women's Minister Hosna Jalil believes "they will adopt the same practices as during their first stint in power, and it could even be worse". Many media outlets, particularly on social networks, have posted videos and messages denouncing the plight of women in a country controlled by the Taliban (see Loopsider video).

With their arrival, Afghan women risk seeing their rights trampled once again: forced to cover themselves completely, to wear the so-called burqa, forbidden to work (so widowed women live in poverty), forbidden to go out without being accompanied by a man, forced to stay at home... The list is long, many are raped and sold into sexual slavery, mutilated, and stonings against women suspected of adultery are commonplace, in short: they live in violence and fear.

They are deprived of their most fundamental rights, such as the right to go to school for little girls. Education, and therefore the emancipation of women under the Taliban regime, is very complicated. 

School is essential to ensure decent living conditions for young women, so that they can become emancipated, have a job, earn their own money and not be destined to remain housewives and live solely by their role as mothers.

It is currently lvery difficult for Afghans to flee the country, as the Taliban already control all the country's borders and some of its airports. 

Shortly before the arrival of the Taliban, all posters and advertisements depicting women and mannequins in the streets of Kabul were whitewashed, and the beauty salons that had sprung up in Kabul in recent years covered their windows in black paint, but some forms of resistance movement were emerging in certain Afghan cities. Several women dared to demonstrate in the streets of Kabul to preserve their rights. They courageously chanted slogans such as "Work, education and political participation are rights for all women".

In some media, Afghan women have spoken out to denounce the fact that their cause has been instrumentalized for years, and that they feel betrayed by the international community.

Elia is a menstrual panties brand that supports the emancipation and freedom of women worldwide.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.