As the Taliban consolidated its control of Afghanistan there is a growing concern among the residents, especially among women, about the return to a stricter interpretation of Islamic rule that had characterised the Taliban regime in the late nineties, which relegated women’s status in the society and straitjacketed their freedom and individual liberties.
Now, a video of Talibani terrorists casually expressing their misogynistic views against women has revealed why the Taliban’s promise of embracing a more moderate outlook was nothing more than a window dressing, aimed to project a mirage of refinement to gain international legitimacy and suppress internal opposition.
A BBC journalist recently took to Twitter to share a video in which a Talibani official is seen making an appalling analogy to justify the hijab. Explaining the importance of the hijab, the Talibani official says: “Do you buy a sliced melon or an intact melon. Of course the intact one. A woman without a hijab is like a sliced melon.”
A Taliban official in an interview in Kabul on the importance of Hijab: “Do you buy a sliced melon or an intact melon🍈 . Of course the intact one. A woman without Hijab is like a sliced melon 🍉”pic.twitter.com/9lHpQnohyd— Zia Shahreyar l ضیا شهریار (@ziashahreyar) September 6, 2021
Equating women with fruit or commodities on sale is just an example of the Taliban’s blatant misogynist views.
Analogies used to objectify women and justify the Hijab
Moreover, the comparison of a woman without a hijab to a sliced melon perpetuates the culture of analogies that rabid Islamists use to rationalise the adoption of the hijab. For a long time now, women who refuse to wear hijabs are objectified as unwrapped candies or lollipops, to motivate others to embrace the hijab.
The lollipop analogy is particularly popular among conservative Muslims on social media. Two lollipops are shown: a bare lollipop with a swarm of flies on it and a wrapped lollipop with flies moving away from it. The caption reads: “You cannot avoid them, but you can protect yourself. Your Creator knows what is better for you.”
Another popular narrative is that women without Hijab are like a sweet without cover, which attracts pests, becomes unsuitable for consumption and hence remains ‘untaken’.
The analogy goes on to say that Muslim women who wear their hijabs deserve respect while those who don’t abide by the Islamic edict of wearing a veil are equivalent to unwrapped lollipops and sweets who deserve to be shunned and discarded.
Women in Afghanistan fret over their fate as Afghanistan falls to the Taliban
Nevertheless, the callous remarks for women bear a stark contrast to claims of greater moderation it has sought to project in the wake of the lightning offensive that resulted in the fall of Kabul on August 15 this year. Such comments would naturally spark fears among women, reminding them of the ham-handed rule of the Taliban from 1996 to 2001.
Back then, women were proscribed from attending school or working outside their homes, in conformity with Sharia Islamic law. Besides, they were also mandated to wear fully covered overgarments called chadaree and be chaperoned by a male relative whenever they went outside. The Taliban had also placed a ban on music and imposed severe punishments on those who violated the Sharia law, such as chopping off the hands of thieves, lashing women in public and stoning people over the allegations of adultery.