Women in Afghanistan are encountering more barriers to protesting the Taliban’s restrictions on their rights in recent weeks, according to Reuters. 

Spontaneous demonstrations have been banned and the group is using violence to stop rallies. Women’s families are also discouraging them from protesting and there are growing concerns over the safety of being identified via social media, women protesters across Afghanistan told Reuters. 

Afghan women were promised more freedom to pursue education and employment under the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law, but the group has failed to deliver.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August for the first time since 2001 and has since worked to strip away women’s hard-earned freedoms over the past 20 years. The Sunni Islamic militant group believes educating women goes against Islam and girls have not been able to attend school past the sixth grade. Women and girls are now also required to wear a burqa, only go outside with a male companion, and have been banned from going to work. 

Protests are not currently prohibited but rally organizers need to seek permission first from the Taliban and provide details, including what they plan on chanting. 

Reuters’ reporting revealed that a group of women who protested on Aug. 15 when the Taliban’s rule first went into effect stopped showing up to demonstrations in early September.

Seven women-led protests occurred between Aug. 15 and Sept. 8, according to Reuters. Since the Taliban set the new rules for protesting, however, there was only one demonstration held in front of Kabul’s women’s ministry after it was closed on Sept. 19. 

A protester who formerly worked in Kabul told Reuters she and others have plans to protest but are holding back due to safety issues and to avoid harassment. Another woman told Reuters that she and a small group of others tried to stage a protest on Sept. 30 but the Taliban shut it down. 

Earlier in September, women gathered in Kabul to protest against the announcement of an all-male government in Kabul and were met with beatings and whippings. What’s more, posted images of women’s faces were vandalized in the city’s Kahir Khana neighborhood. Meanwhile, a different group of women protestors had their signs advocating for girls' education ripped out of their hands by the Taliban.  

The Taliban has also used guns and have beaten and killed protesters in large demonstrations in general opposition of the militant group.

Kabul-based women’s rights activist Taranom Seyedi told Reuters that after organizing protests in the city, she received letters from the Taliban claiming they had made a list of all the women involved and would search their houses for them. The threat led Seyedi and others to remove protest-related content from social media accounts as a safety precaution. 

"Since my participation in the protest, I've had to relocate twice ... My family is terrified, and even my neighbors are concerned and urging me not to join,” Seyedi said


Demand Equity

Afghan Women Struggle to Take a Stand as Taliban Cracks Down on Protests

By Leah Rodriguez