A women’s rights protest in Kabul reportedly ended in violence as Taliban fighters moved to disperse the group of defiant Afghan women Saturday, September 4.
Footage shows the female activists calling for women to be allowed participation in the public sphere under the Taliban regime. Chaos erupted when the Taliban militants allegedly used tear gas and batons to keep the protesters from reaching the presidential palace. The women were seen coughing and covering their faces amid panicked screaming.
Soraya, a demonstrator who attended the march, said: ‘Together with a group of our colleagues, we wanted to go near the former government offices for a protest. But before we got there, the Taliban hit women with electric tasers, and they used tear gas against women. They also hit women on the head with a gun magazine, and the women became bloody. There was no one to ask why.’
Meanwhile, Taliban leaders have dismissed the protests as propaganda.
Muhammad Jalal, head of the Cultural Commission, said: ‘What about the number of women [who attended the protest], 20 or 30, The majority of women are happy.’
The future of women’s rights in Afghanistan has come into question following the Taliban takeover on August 15. Human rights advocates fear the return of restrictive and draconian policies enforced by the hardline Islamist group two decades ago.
The Taliban warlords were quick to allay these concerns in their August 17 press conference, vowing to uphold equal rights for women ‘within the framework of Islamic law’.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: ‘We are going to allow women to work and study. We have got frameworks, of course. Women are going to be very active in the society but within the framework of Islam.’