Fear is mounting for women and girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban asked working women to stay at home, saying they were not safe in the hands of the terrorist group’s operatives. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said at a news conference on 24 August that women should not go to work for their own safety, undermining the group’s efforts to convince international observers that they would accept the idea of women venturing out of their houses more than they were before the George Bush Jr administration ordered a military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 following 9/11.
The Taliban warning to women coincided with the World Bank’s decision to halt funding in Afghanistan, citing concerns for the safety of women. The terrorist group, now surprisingly facing tolerant international statesmen and media, issued the statement within hours of the UN’s call for a “transparent and prompt investigation” into reports of human rights abuses since the Taliban takeover.
Mujahid said the guidance to stay at home would be temporary. He said the Taliban would allow the group to find ways to ensure that women were not “treated in a disrespectful way” or “God forbid, hurt.” He admitted that the measure was necessary because the Taliban’s soldiers “keep changing and are not trained.”
“We are happy for them to enter the buildings but we want to make sure they do not face any worries (sic),” he said. “Therefore, we have asked them to take time off from work until the situation gets back to a normal order and women related procedures are in place, then they can return to their jobs once it’s announced.”
When last in power between 1996 and 2001, the mercenaries had banned women from the workplace, stopped them from leaving home unaccompanied by male kin and forced them to cover their entire bodies.
The group insists it’s a new era where they will be more moderate, and the media, as well as different countries, are buying it even though Taliban leaders have refused to guarantee women’s rights will not be stripped back and many have already faced violence.
The World Bank announced today it was halting financial support to Afghanistan amid worries about the fate of women under Taliban rule, dealing another blow to an economy that relies heavily on foreign aid. “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the impact on the country’s development prospects, especially for women,” World Bank spokesperson Marcela Sanchez-Bender said in a statement.
Meanwhile, five women from Afghanistan’s robotics team arrived in Mexico on 24 August after they were issued visas on humanitarian grounds.
In the early months of the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan, women have been increasingly isolated from society. Many have been targets of harassment and attacks. Incidents include the high-profile murder of three women journalists in March.
In early July, insurgents walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in the southern city of Kandahar and ordered nine women working there to leave, Reuters reported. The women bank tellers were told that male relatives would take their place.
In early July, insurgents walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, and ordered nine women working there to leave. The women bank tellers were told that male relatives would take their place.
Amid increasing concern from the international community, the United Nations called for a “transparent and prompt investigation” into human rights abuses “committed by all parties to the conflict” on 24 August, after an emergency meeting of its Human Rights Council.
But the agency was condemned by a number of non-profit organizations for parsing its language after adopting the resolution, initially proposed by Pakistan.
John Fisher, Geneva director at the Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the UN had “failed to create a strong human rights monitoring body and meet its responsibility to protect the Afghan people.” He said the resolution was “a slap in the face to Afghan human rights defenders and women’s rights activists who are watching in horror as the rule of law crumbles around them.”
The Taliban warned today that the US must stick to next week’s deadline to pull out. The group said they were “not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore,” though a source said Wednesday that the apparent ban had not yet had a discernible effect on arrivals at Kabul airport.
Approximately 19,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan on 24 August, including 11,200 evacuees on US military flights and 7,800 on coalition flights, according to a White House official.
That’s down slightly from the previous day when the US reported 21,000 people were evacuated from Kabul airport via 37 US military flights carrying 12,700 evacuees, plus 57 coalition flights carrying 8,900 people.
A frantic Western evacuation operation at Kabul’s airport has provided the only faint opportunity for many Afghans to escape the country in recent days, and crowds outside the facility have swelled since the militants seized power.
But US President Joe Biden reiterated that he aims to stick with his 31 August deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as long as the Taliban does not disrupt ongoing evacuation operations or airport access. Top American allies have already called for an extension in order to fly more people out.