Afghan women return to the streets to demand their human rights

Afghan women return to the streets to demand their human rights

A number of Afghan women again took to the streets of Kabul on Sunday to demand the right to work and to study against an increasingly bleak backdrop of Taliban Islamist authoritarianism.

Videos shared by local media show a group of around two dozen women’s rights activists gathering in front of what was until recently the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the Afghan capital Kabul, chanting “women’s rights and human rights.”

The Taliban recently abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and replaced it with the Ministry of Invitation, Guidance and Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the seat of the religious police, whose role is to enforce public decency and adherence to the Taliban‘s strict interpretation of Islam.

During the Taliban’s regime in the 1990s, the much-feared religious police were notorious for publicly lashing and beating women who dared to venture outside without covering their entire body.

So far, the Taliban has forbidden girls to attend secondary school and has instructed universities to segregate classes by gender, but has otherwise disclosed little about how much individual freedom it plans to grant women.

Following the Taliban seizure of power, Afghan women held several days of protests across the country in which they demanded the hardline Islamists respect their human rights. The protests were violently suppressed, however. The Sunday protest in Kabul apparently passed off without incident.