Senior Taliban leader Waheedullah Hashimi said on 18 August that Afghan women’s right to work and education would be decided by the ulema or Islamic scholars. “Our ulema (scholars) will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not,” Hashimi said on 18 August.
Hashmi said Islamic scholars would take a call on how women are required to dress under the new Taliban regime. “They will decide whether they should wear hijab, burqa, or only (a) veil plus abaya or something, or not. That is up to them,” Hashimi said.
Just about a little more than 24 hours ago, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had declared at the Taliban’s first media conference following their siege of Kabul that women would play an active role in Afghan society “but within the framework of Islam”. Mujahid had also said that women will be allowed to study and work in Afghan society. However, just hours later the Islamist militant group had reportedly killed a woman for not covering her head in public, the New York Post reported.
The Taliban had assured women and international organisations that they would continue to enjoy the rights guaranteed under Islamic law. However, just this week news agency Reuters reported that Taliban fighters had walked into the offices of two prominent banks in Herat and Kandahar and asked the women working there to not return to their jobs. Radio Presenter Shabnam Dawran said in a video shared on Twitter on Wednesday that she was turned away from her job at Afghanistan’s state-owned Radio Television Afghanistan. “They told me that the regime has changed. You are not allowed, go home,” she said.
Armed members of the insurgent group have been going around the country, knocking on the doors of residents, asking them to return to their jobs. On Wednesday morning three armed men knocked at the door of 38-year old Wasima, who lives in the western city of Herat, took down her details, enquired about her job, remuneration, and asked her to resume working, media reported.
The Taliban, during its earlier regime between 1996 and 2001, had imposed strict Islamic law and prohibited women from studying or working, and made it mandatory for all women to be accompanied by a male relative in public. With the return of the regime after 20 years of battle with the US-led forces, Afghan women fear all the gains made in respect to women’s rights could be lost and suppressed, a fear which the international community, too, shares.