Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 when a U.S. led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attack. For nearly 20 years from 2001 onwards, Taliban regrouped across the border in Pakistan and led an insurgency against the U.S.backed government in Kabul. Taliban is now back and surprisingly overthrew Ashraf Ghani’s government within 10 days. The newly formed government lead by the Taliban created an environment of fear among Afghans (native of Afghanistan) especially among women who were victimised during the last regime of the Taliban between 1996 to 2001.
In the last regime of the Taliban, women were subjected to persistent human rights violations, denied education and employment, forced to adhere to Purdah and restricted free movement of women. Taliban’s jurisprudence was drawn from the Pashtuns’ pre-Islamic tribal code and selective interpretations of Sharia law. The regime neglected social services and other basic state functions and forced women to adhere to the head-to-toe burqa or chadri. They restricted women from leaving home without Mahram (a member of one’s family with whom marriage would be considered illegal) and would beat the women they found unaccompanied in public places. Taliban also perpetuated forced marriages and during their regime, 80 per cent of marriages that happened in Afghanistan were forced. They offered wives for luring militants to join the Taliban as well as making it mandatory to offer an unmarried woman above 15 years of age from each house to their militants. They also banned music and television while the schools for girls were shuttered.
The recapturing of power by Taliban has forced the Afghans especially women, to remeber their brutal 1996-2001 regime during which women, men and minorities were persecuted and denied basic human rights. During the last 20 golden years, women of Afghanistan tasted freedom and empowerment which was an elusive dream for them till 2001. Women for the first time competed with men in sectors ranging from aviation to diplomacy and from education sector to defence. Although the new Talibani regime has claimed that they have changed their stance on women rights but one must not forget their past which has witnessed heavy bloodshed, violence, human rights violation and persecution. The responsibility lies with the new regime to wash away the sins of the past and make women feel comfortable at their homeland.