Afghan Women Protest in Kabul; Taliban Responds with Violence

About two dozen women marched down a main street of Kabul chanting “bread, work, freedom,” “we want political participation” and “no to enslavement.”

The protesters unfurled a large banner announcing the anniversary of the Taliban’s resumption of power as a day of solidarity with Afghan women. They also demanded the international community step up to help them. 

The banner read “15 August is a black day,” referring to the upcoming anniversary. The marchers also chanted: “Justice! Justice! We’re fed up with ignorance,” per the AFP. 

“It was important because it’s nearly the first anniversary of the Taliban rule and we wanted to say that we don’t consent to this government,” said one young woman who spoke to NPR after the protest. She requested anonymity so she couldn’t be identified by Taliban authorities.

Protesters in Kabul Saturday marked the anniversary of the Taliban’s resumption of power as a day of solidarity with Afghan women. The protesters also demanded the international community step up to help them.

As the women marched, Taliban security forces began grabbing the phones and cameras of Afghan journalists and male international correspondents. They grabbed the phone of a boy on a bicycle who tried to take a photo.

Taliban fighters chased protesters and beat them with the butts of their rifles. Taliban fighters fired guns into the air over the heads of the women, and they chased and beat the marchers with the butts of their rifles, AFP reports.

Taliban fighters fired into the air and attacked protesters to break up the rally. Photograph: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

Human Rights Watch this week called on foreign governments to press the Taliban to restore the basic rights. “The Afghan people are living a human rights nightmare, victims of both Taliban cruelty and international apathy,” said Fereshta Abbasi, an Afghanistan researcher with the group. “Afghanistan’s future will remain bleak unless foreign governments engage more actively with Taliban authorities while pressuring them vigorously on their rights record.”

Human Rights Watch

 Since the U.S. withdrawal from the country last year, the Taliban have wiped away rights women gained during the two decades the U.S. occupied the country. 

Taliban leaders at a ceremony in Kabul in April 2022 marking the anniversary of the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder. © 2022 AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
  • The Taliban said in the aftermath they would honor women’s rights, but only within the “frameworks” of Islamic law.
  • However, the Taliban have placed a number of restrictions on women and girls.
  • Girls have been barred from attending secondary school, and women have been forbidden from holding most government jobs or traveling alone. 
  • The Taliban also ordered women and girls to wear full face coverings.
Women attending a sewing workshop.

He [Richard Bennett, Rapporteur] expressed alarm that many of the de facto authorities’ policies and drive for absolute control are having a cumulative effect on a wide range of human rights and are creating a society ruled by fear. The advancing erasure of women from public life is especially concerning. Measures such as the suspension of girls’ secondary education, severe barriers to employment, no opportunities to participate in political and public life, limits on freedom of movement, association, and expression, directives on maharam (male family member chaperone), enforcing a strict form of Hijab and strong advice to stay at home, fit the pattern of absolute gender segregation and are aimed at making women invisible in society.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner

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