Taliban and the dehumanising of women | By Tariq Aqil

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Taliban and the dehumanising of women |

AMERICAN forces in Afghanistan left the country in a hurried chaotic manner more than a year ago and the unfortunate people of Afghanistan were once again left in the cruel and vicious grip of the Taliban and their obscurantist medieval philosophy based on rule of the clergy.

The Taliban started their second rule by giving assurances to the world community that they will rule differently from their previous stint in power.

They gave guarantees that human rights and women’s rights will be protected and non-Muslim minorities will not be victimized.

With the passage of time all the promises of the Taliban Government have been broken one by one.

The people of Afghanistan are in desperate need of economic assistance and help from the world community.

They are hungry, unemployed, illiterate and totally abandoned by the Taliban Government and the world community.

So far the Government of the Taliban has not been recognized by any country of the world including the Muslim countries even Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE although they had recognised the same when they (Taliban) had seized power for the first time in 2021.

Civilized countries of the world do not agree with the archaic and medieval philosophy of the Taliban.

The world community insists that the new rulers of Afghanistan should ensure transparency in governance, to guarantee the right of education and employment for women, to respect the rights of non-Muslims and to behave in a civilized manner only then they can expect some help and assistance from the world community.

Even today millions of dollars of the Afghan Government lie frozen in some western countries and the Taliban can do nothing to retrieve their own funds.

Ironically the leaders of the world seem to have lost all interest in the plight of the Afghan people.

Today the priority of the western democracies is the war in Europe and the plight of the people of Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has just been to the US, where he happily spoke of Russian crimes before a joint session of Congress.

America’s Republicans and Democrats, for once united around a cause, gave him a standing ovation.

No Taliban leader can dream of even being invited to any country in the western world. While the world is obsessed with the Russian-Ukraine conflict in Europe Kabul is in the grip of some disgraceful and frightening actions of the Taliban Government School going girls have been ordered to stay home and they have been denied education from the primary to the university level.

The Taliban believe that any form of formal education is a waste of time for women and they are supposed to stay home and raise children. Women have been banned from all types of employment.

Women in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and pledges by the new rulers believed that education at the university level for them will be allowed now face the stark reality of the hollowness of the promises given by the Taliban leaders.

These men have decided, in the infinity of their ignorance that women do not have to go to university to get education.

Indeed, they do not need education. Life for them is in the home. On the streets, it is in the asphyxiation of head-to-toe clothing they need to suffer through, under the eagle eyes of all those gun-toting, self-appointed guardians of morality.

The rulers of Afghanistan are unfortunately are steeped in ignorance and illiteracy and have decided that their female population has no need of any education and their entire life should be spent in the home in service of their menfolk.

Men have the right to decide what the women should wear and how their dress should be worn and it is absolute misogyny that is the basis of the Taliban policy making but ironically the Taliban leaders are neither educated nor literate enough to even think of policy formulation.

What the Taliban did in their first rule in Afghanistan and what they are doing today is reminiscent of what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia sometime back.

The difference is that where Pol Pot and his colleagues looked upon the entire population of the country as a herd of sheep to be taken out to pasture and stripped of its dignity, the Taliban have focused on seeing women as property they can own and command and humiliate in the name of religion.

The consequences of the Taliban rule have been horrendous and disastrous for the Afghan women.

All foreign NGOs in Afghanistan have been ordered not engage women at any level. Afghanistan is now back in the medieval ages of ignorance and obscurantism.

Denigration of women always a favourite ploy and tactic of ignorant and illiterate Mullahs in many Muslim countries is now an established political reality in Afghanistan.

In the name of Islam and their misplaced control of women’s modesty the dark and sinister forces of religious extremism in Afghanistan have very effectively shut the door to a prosperous and civilized future of their country.

Time now stands still in Afghanistan or rather it has gone back to many centuries in time.

It is intriguing how certain Islamic societies have often taken it upon themselves — and these societies are a rowdy mob of men who seriously believe they have a covenant with the Allah Almighty to pronounce judgment on every facet of life — to decree how women should comport themselves in public.

The young Mahsa Amini lost her life in Iran because the so-called guardians of the Islamic revolution did not think her head was covered in the religious way.

Those empty schools and universities in Kabul will soon go the way, metaphorically, of the Bamiyan statues.

That ubiquitous chador in Tehran will worsen life for Iran’s women, for it will stifle the growth of intellect and sense of freedom in them.

Modern times call for modern governance. Anything less pushes a society back into primitivism, even as the rest of the world forges ahead.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.