Just a week after promising that they will respect the freedom of women in a press conference, the Taliban has admitted that the women are not safe from their soldiers. Now the group has asked the women in Afghanistan to stay at home, saying they need to train the Talibanis first on how to respect women.
Yesterday in a press conference, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that women should not go to work for their own safety for the time being. He said that this ‘stay at home’ guidance for women is temporary, and it is necessary because some of the militants have not yet been trained not to hurt women.
“We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women,” Mujahid said. He added, “We don’t want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women.”
The Taliban spokesperson said women should stay home until they have a new procedure on the matter, and assured that their salaries will be paid in their homes. Trying hard to emphasise that women were asked to stay at home for their own safety and not for their anti-women policy, he said that the regime wants to ensure that they do not face any worries.
Ahmadullah Waseq, the deputy of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee, had made similar remarks a day ago. He had said that the Taliban had no problem with working women as long as they wore hijabs. But he had added that at present the women are being asked not to go to work because at present it is a military situation. He had said women can start going to work when the situation becomes normal.
The current stance of allowing women to work in Hijab marks a difference from the earlier Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when women were not allowed to work outside home. They were also not allowed to leave home without a male guardian.
However, the ‘temporary’ ban on working women signifies the differences between the Talibani leadership and their foot soldiers. While the leadership wants to project a moderate image to obtain recognition of its regime, the Sharia following ordinary Talibanis are not accustomed to women working outside home.
Even though the Taliban leaders say they will respect women’s rights, making the Sharia mandatory makes that claim contradictory. The Islamic system itself has several restrictions on women. Therefore, the promise of the dictate being temporary may not be kept by the group, and it may remain a ‘temporary restriction’ till the group remains in power in Afghanistan.