Girls protest in Taliban-controlled Kabul

Despite the risk, a group called the Women’s Political Participation Network marched on the streets in front of the Afghan Ministry of Finance, chanting slogans and holding up signs demanding participation in the Afghan government and calling for constitutional law.

The footage showed a brief confrontation between a Taliban security guard and some of the women, and a male voice said, “Go away!” before chanting resumed.

The gathering was relatively small – a video of the scene streamed live by the group showed only a few dozen protesters – but it posed an unusual public challenge to Taliban rule.

The militant group is involved in internal discussions about forming a government but has already signaled that working women should stay at home, and militants have in some cases ordered women to leave their jobs.

Taliban leaders publicly insist that women play a prominent role in society and have access to education. But the group’s public statements of adherence to their interpretation of Islamic values ​​have fueled fears that there will be a return to the harsh policies of Taliban rule two decades ago, when women all but disappeared from public life.

Some Afghan women stay home fearing for their safety, and some families buy burqas for female relatives.

The demonstration in Kabul takes place the day after a similar demonstration by women in the Afghan city of Herat in western Afghanistan. During this protest, women held a large sign that read: “No government can exist without the support of women. Our demands: the right to education and the right to work in all areas.”

Lina Haidari, a protester at the Herat demonstration, said the “rights and achievements of women, for whom we have worked and fought for over 20 years, must not be ignored under Taliban rule,” said a video of the event by Getty Images.

“I want to say that I had to stay home 20 years ago for the crime of being a student,” said Haidari in a footage collected by the agency.

The protests come amid heightened security fears under Taliban rule. A prominent Afghan activist said she did not attend the Herat demonstration because of a direct threat. She spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, fearing that even showing interest in the demonstration could subject her to reprisals.

Uncertain future

Last month, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that women should not go to work for their own safety, undermining the group’s efforts to convince international observers that the group would be more tolerant of women than of their ultimate power.

Mujahid said the guidance on staying at home is temporary and will allow the group to find ways to ensure women are not “disrespected” or “God forbid hurt”. He admitted that the measure was necessary because the Taliban soldiers “are constantly changing and are not being trained”.

Concerns about the fate of women prompted the World Bank to announce on the same day that it would end its financial aid for the scarce land.

The Taliban have declared victory.  Now they have to reckon with a country that is freely falling into chaos

In the first few months of the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan, women became increasingly isolated from society and became targets of harassment and attack – including the high-profile murder of three female journalists in March.

In early July, insurgents broke into Azizi Bank’s offices in the southern city of Kandahar and ordered nine women working there to leave, Reuters reported. The bank employees were told that male relatives would take their place.

Pashtana Durrani, the founder and CEO of Learn, a non-profit agency focusing on education and women’s rights, said last month that she had run out of tears for her country: “We … So I don’t feel very well. On the contrary, I feel very hopeless. ”

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