Afghan women's protests met with violence from Taliban

Female protesters motivated by events in Iran are demanding their basic rights

Afghan women show their education certificates at a protest to demand job opportunities in Kabul.  EPA
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Afghan women protesters calling for their basic right to education and work faced violence from the Taliban on Monday.

In recent days female-led demonstrations have escalated in the country following a wave of anti-government protests in Iran, which were sparked by the death in custody of 22-year old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

Female students have attempted to enter a university in Badakhshan. Video footage from the scene sent to the BBC showed some being whipped by a member of the Taliban.

When the Taliban regime seized control of Afganistan on August 15 last year it began limiting the rights of women and girls.

Women including those who used to work in various departments and offices in the previous government protested in Kabul demanding better job opportunities.

Since their takeover, the Taliban have banned women from many government jobs and ended secondary school education for girls.

Afghan women are demanding their basic human rights, and for girls to be able to return to school.

Pictures and videos circulated on social media on Monday showing women in Shahr e Naw park in Kabul displaying their education certificates.

“Afghan women have raised their voices hundreds of times during the past year, but the international community has not heard them,” one of them said.

The women chanted “education is our right” and “woman, life, freedom”, echoing protesters in Iran.

Since last September, the Taliban has banned girls from secondary education, ordering the schools to reopen only for boys, despite pledging to support education for girls when they regained power.

It is now “406 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school,” said Yalda Hakim, BBC World News presenter who is of Afghan origin.

“Afghanistan remains the only country in the planet where the de facto authorities continue to prevent girls from getting an education, simply because of their gender,” Ms Hakim said on Twitter.

Last week, the international group Human Rights Watch said three Afghan women were detained for protesting against Taliban abuses, describing torture and other severe mistreatment in custody.

Its report said the women “experienced threats, beatings, dangerous conditions of confinement, denial of due process, abusive conditions of release, and other abuses.”

Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said that women in Afghanistan were brave for standing up to the Taliban, despite its brutal response.

“It’s difficult to overstate the incredible bravery of these and other Afghan women who protest against Taliban abuses,” she said.

“These women’s stories show how deeply threatened the Taliban feel … and the brutal lengths the Taliban go to try to silence them,” she said.

Updated: October 31, 2022, 1:30 PM