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Women’s Rights Backslide with Taliban in Control of Afghanistan 

<strong>Women’s Rights Backslide with Taliban in Control of Afghanistan </strong>

It’s been nearly a year since we pulled US troops from Afghanistan and already the impact on women’s rights is stark. 

The rollback began almost immediately after the Taliban seized control in August 2021, sparking mass protests that were punished with unlawful arrest and torture. 

The Taliban banned protests in September 2021 and began raiding the homes of protest organizers in January 2022. Not surprisingly, Taliban members ignored due process and failed to adhere to the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

According to three Afghan women who spoke with Human Rights Watch, protestors and their families were arrested and detained in cramped quarters for weeks. Journalists who covered the protests were also detained. 

At the mercy of the Taliban, prisoners were subjected to threats, beatings, pepper spray, and electric shock and had rare access to food and bathrooms. Several children were near death before a local doctor convinced Taliban members to move the kids to a larger room with better ventilation.

“[Our families] are really in danger,” said a former prisoner who spoke with reporters under the pseudonym Hypatia. “But we can’t stop [fighting]. Maybe some countries will recognize the Taliban. Some countries don’t know that the Taliban are lying. They just want to fight for power. I am fighting for my life.” 

After being captured, Hypatia and others were forced to surrender their cell phones for investigation. Mothers were separated from their children and male prisoners were beaten within earshot of their wives. Some were even forced to relinquish property deeds as a condition of release. 

“A girl from my village killed herself,” admits Hypatia. “There is no media to cover what is happening…One of my relatives with eight kids has disappeared. His wife can’t feed the kids. There is no information about the north. No one knows what is happening there…We don’t know why the world left us like this.” 

Protestors aren’t the only ones suffering at the hands of the Taliban. Young women who were allowed to go to school before the takeover are now stuck at home. Though the Taliban claims it has no interest in restoring its 1990s apparatus (under which women were banned from school and forced to endure physical abuse if they left home without wearing a burqa), the group has issued multiple decrees regarding how far women can travel without a male escort, what they are allowed to wear in public, and what jobs they are permitted to hold.

According to the Taliban, the ideal woman never leaves the house unless there is an emergency.

“Afghan women and girls have faced some of the harshest consequences of Taliban rules, and they have led the difficult fight to protect rights in Afghanistan,” says Human Rights Watch executive Heather Barr. “Unfortunately, their pleas to the international community to stand by them have not been answered.” 

Last week, the Afghan Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – headquartered in a building that once belonged to the Women’s Affairs Ministry – issued rules banning women from amusement parks, gyms, and public bath houses. All secondary education (high school) for women has been postponed until “a comprehensive plan has been prepared according to Sharia and Afghan culture.” 

Women who were lucky enough to have completed 12th grade before the US pullout were allowed to take college entrance exams, but were barred from pursuing law, engineering, economics, veterinary medicine, and journalism. 

The situation is particularly frustrating for women who dealt with Sharia law at a young age and were hopeful that their children would be free from it. 

“Before August [2021], I had a normal life. I would work in an office together with my other colleagues including men,” says Khatol, a former Afghan government employee. “My children were going to school, and I had dreams of a bright future for them – that one day my children will become doctors, teachers, engineers.”

Thanks to the takeover and slow reimposition of Sharia law, however, the dreams Khatol and countless others had for their children are in jeopardy. 

“My daughters are at home because schools are closed for them,” continues Khatol. “My dreams for their future are all shattered. My life becomes bitter when I see my daughters with a disappointed look on their face.”

Author’s Note:

Things didn’t have to be this way, explains my colleague Joe Gilbertson (click here to read more). Whereas former President Donald Trump planned to pull out of Afghanistan with a plan in place to assist the local government and protect women from the brutality of the Taliban, President Joe Biden simply gave up and withdrew without so much as asking for concessions. 

With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Afghan army surrendered to the Taliban and allowed them to take control. Things can only get worse from here.


Afghanistan: Women Protestors Detail Taliban Abuse

A year in, the Taliban escalates its war against girls’ education in Afghanistan

In focus: Women in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban takeover

About The Author


  1. Concerned Citizen

    Yet you say nothing about women’s rights in the US after the Inferior Courts Roe v. Wade decision.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Are you honestly making a comparison of women’s rights in America vs women’s rights under Sharia law? Are you that sheltered that you don’t understand?

    • Larry kuhn

      A good decision. But women can still murder babies. So keep up the good work

  2. frank stetson

    Sure, I think you can make the Roe comparison. Forcing women to do something with their bodies that they don’t want to seems against their rights. Politicians should not control women’s bodies.

    That said, what did you expect from the Taliban in Afghanistan? Tea, cookies, and college?

    For Alice n Joe to say this wouldn’t happen under Trump; Trump was the man with a plan, is conjecture. I, for one, would say this is a man without a plan. Remember Obamacare, there was a plan and it would be easy, in Trump’s own words. How did his plan for his second term work out? The midterms?

    Fact is this deal was sealed the day he announced we were getting out in May 2021. The Taliban started recruiting and planning in February 2020 after Trump announced the pull out date with the caveat of things going to plan. The Taliban began their assault in May of 2021. At that point, what did you want to happen?

    We have been propping up this puppet government for over two decades through Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. The Afghan people did not support them, they could not defend their nations. What did you want us to do? I really doubt Trump had the plan to re-energize, rebuild, and restore democracy in a country where we had abject failure for over 20 years.

    It’s a terrible situation. We tried. For over 20 years we tried. It was time to come home. The Afghanistan women, and others, are facing unspeakable horrors, that is a crime. But we are not the world’s police and a few decades of trying is enough. We can’t save every puppy in the pound.

    • Larry kuhn

      You people are not to be trusted with kids. You hate children so much.

    • Tom

      You are correct Frank. I place most of the blame on Trump not including the Afghan government in with the negotiation with Taliban. Then he set a withdrawal date and did not stick to it and Taliban got tired of waiting. This was totally under Trump’s control – he could have simply stuck to his plan. But he did not. And you are correct, I doubt that Trump had much of a plan for Taliban women seeing as he is a pussy petter that has no respect for the women in his country, why should he respect poor women in a far off backward country.

      • Frank stetson

        Well, believe it or not, I would not go that far. I am pretty sure no one can solve this mess because it was unsolvable. While I am pretty sure Trump was clueless, he may still have fared better than Biden given the dismal withdrawal. But ultimately he would have failed. Anyone would have. There’s a millennium of failures in Afghanistan. You cannot have a democracy unless the people want it. And they have to want it bad. Bad enough to die for it. Bad enough to drop the tribal crap, join together, and protect democracy against all comets, foreign and domestic. That is not Afghanistan.

        After 20 years in Afghanistan, I think we knew our answer.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Frank, you have clearly been drinking again if you believe women’s rights in the U.S. are comparable to women’s rights under sharia law.

      • Frank stetson

        I never said that, I said you can make a Roe comparison. And I explined why I said it which was nowhere near the conclusionn you knee jerked to.

  3. Darren

    2000 Thousand years of history, and you still think you can control backwards people.
    Afghan tradition is imbedded in these people. No government, people , or warning will change
    tradition. If any change was going to ever have any affect there was only 1 solution.

    When the U.S. pulled out, ALL the women should have been removed with us.
    Watch them run a country with NO women. Then only time would be their enemy.

    • Sam

      Rag heads will always be evil. They came from a wicked beginning. Check out a guy named Ishmael in the Bible. And then check out the worship of false gods

  4. Mike F

    Anytime a conservative group takes control from a more liberal group, rights can be expected to decrease. Happens in the US under conservative Republican administrations regularly both at the state and national level. It was obvious that things would decline after the taliban regained control in Afghanistan, just as it was obvious they would regain control after the legitimate government was left out of peace negotiations. But the hacks who blog for the windbag post would never bother to dive deeply into a subject to determine actual responsibility, much easier to blame the dems and let their sheep eat it up…

    • Buck

      Just wait until the democrats make us into a full blown communist country. Then talk about rights.

      • Bibfy

        Way to stay on point, buck. Not.