The Scream of a Woman in Afghanistan


"No one cares about us 
because we were born in Afghanistan."
"We're going to die in history."

- Afghan girl's despair at the Taliban rule -

'Is this the twenty-first century's real-world?' People running desperately toward aircraft, people hanging upside down on the stairs in an attempt to board an aircraft, people taking off and crashing in the air while clinging to the aircraft's wheels...

Crowds rushed into Kabul Airport to flee the country after the Islamic armed group Taliban reclaimed control of the Afghan regime. Afghans who had been going about their daily lives were thrown into battlefields rife with violence and fear.

People all over the world witnessed how easily modern civilization could devolve into an anti-civilized and violent situation by watching the more urgent scene of the Afghan Exodus rather than a movie.

The two men killed in a take-off transport plane crash were ordinary Afghan boys aged 16 and 17. They were brothers who supported their mother by selling fruits in the market in Kabul.

Even now, 38 million Afghans fear having to choose a perilous escape route.

And the reality imposed on the weak and women in need of protection among them is as perilous as standing on the edge of a knife.

Who is the Taliban?

In Arabic, Taliban means "students." The Arabic word "Talib," which means "student," is combined with the Pashtun plural mother "an," where "student" refers to a seminary student studying in a Madrasa, a boarding school that teaches Islam.

What caused a group of theological students studying God's teachings to become ruthless? The clock has been turned back 40 years. 

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the US-trained and supported Mujahedin (warriors) to fight the Soviets. At the time, the Taliban were theological students who had been trained as anti-Soviet warriors in Pashtun, southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban was founded in 1994 in Kandahar, Afghanistan's southernmost province. From 1996 to 2001, they ruled roughly three-quarters of Afghanistan under the leadership of Muhammad Omar.


The country with the lowest women's rights in the world

Women and minorities bore the brunt of the Taliban's atrocities during their five-year reign. During this time, Afghan women were unable to obtain an education, find work, or go out without male protection, and were barred from holding any public office. In the face of the cruel reality of not being guaranteed basic human rights, women were helplessly forced to endure ruthless violence.

▲ World Economic Forum Report: 'Global Gender Gap Report 2021'

Women in Afghanistan have the lowest social status in the world as of 2021. 

According to the World Economic Forum's recently released Global Gender Gap Report 2021, Afghanistan's gender equality index ranked 156th out of 156 countries.

It wasn't always like this. In fact, in the 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan had a free atmosphere within Islamic society, and women were so open that they walked around Kabul in miniskirts. However, with the Taliban in power, women's human rights deteriorated to a barbaric level, and they have yet to recover, even 20 years after the U.S. military government left. 

 UNESCO Statistical Institute data: 

‘Afghanistan's education registration rates, women (reference data in September 2020)’.

During the Taliban's reign, Afghan women were barred from going out, going to school, or working.

The Taliban's 1996-2001 graph was cut off in UNESCO's "Afghanistan Education Institution Registration Rate, Women" graph. This means that women's education was halted entirely during this time period.

Since 2001, when the Taliban stepped down and the Afghan government was established, the graph has risen dramatically, restoring women's educational opportunities. In 2018, approximately 83 percent of Afghan women were enrolled in educational institutions.

However, due to the Taliban's reign, the graph is expected to plummet once more.

Women were labeled as evil under common law.

What is the Taliban's motivation for oppressing women? The foundations are based on Pashtunwali, Deovanni, and Sharia Law.

1. Pashtunwali

Pashtunwali is a long-standing custom of the Pashtunwali, the Taliban's main pillar, that presents virtues to possess as a Pashtun man, such as hospitality, protection, honor, and bravery. 

The Taliban interprets Islamic law based on Pashtunwali, and the problem is that Pashtunwali's view of women is overwhelmingly male-centered, with women regarded as evil beings. 

According to Pashtonwali, women are completely owned by men and are merely tools for second-generation production.

2. Deobandi

Deovanni represents the "Islamic Reform Movement" that occurred in India following British colonial rule. Afghanistan, as a neighboring Indian country, was heavily influenced by the Deovandi concept, which completely excludes women from public spaces.

3. Sharia law

Sharia law is a way of life that all Muslims must adhere to, including prayer, fasting, and charitable contributions to the poor. However, if Sharia law is interpreted incorrectly, it can be applied more brutally to women than any other legal system in the world. The following are the main characteristics of Sharia law.

- Extreme punishment: Harsh physical punishments seen only in high medieval society, such as amputating hands for theft and stoning to death for adultery.

- Extreme sexism: Sharia law has been revised in order to make women and non-Muslims increasingly vulnerable. As a result, even if a woman is beaten or sexually assaulted, proving that she is a victim is difficult.


Under Taliban rule 

A woman's life is miserable 

▲ Women wearing miniskirts and walking freely on the streets in the 1970s, and women covered their whole bodies with burka under the Taliban.

According to a Human Rights Watch report published in 2020, brutal corporal punishment, including extreme oppression and the suppression of freedom of religion, expression, and education, was used on Afghan women during the Taliban's rule.

Directly to Human Rights Watch: "Taleban-controlled Afghanistan's education, social restrictions, and justice (2020)".


 The Taliban-controlled Afghanistan's Education, Social Restrictions, and Justice report categorize the Taliban's oppression of Afghan women into four categories.

1. Education

Since the Taliban took power, laws prohibiting girls over the age of eight from attending school have been enacted. 

As a result, in Kabul alone, 106,256 girls and 8,000 female college students were expelled, and 63 schools were closed. Women who desired an education had no choice but to attend underground schools in secret, risking execution if discovered.


2. Workplace

The Taliban outlawed all employment of women on September 30, 1996.

Exempt from the ban on female health workers are getting a job, but the water in Kabul rallied at the hospital more than 200 women who work at the 50 schools and in Kabul, leaving only a schoolmistress 7793 people have been fired. Many women had jobs but were forced to beg for money on the streets.

3. Well-being

When women were examined by a male doctor, the Taliban required them to be fully clothed. This hampered clear examination and treatment, and even if I went to a small hospital with a female doctor, I couldn't believe the drug's efficacy. 

Furthermore, women's mental health was jeopardized by forced confinement and social isolation. A survey of 160 women revealed that 97 percent had severe depression and 71 percent had poor physical health.

4. Punishment

Extreme violence was used as a form of punishment under Sharia law. Women who violated Sharia law faced public repercussions such as square and street beatings.


| Cases of female punishment under the Taliban.

○ In October 1996, the tip of a woman's thumb was amputated because she had painted her nails.

○ In 1999, a mother with seven children was accused of murdering her husband at the Kabul Gaji Sports Stadium and was executed in front of 30,000 spectators instead of her daughter, who was strongly suspected of the crime.

○ When a woman discovered that she was running an unofficial school in her apartment, the children were beaten, and women were thrown down the stairs. threw a woman down the stairs, and detained.

| Restrictions on women's oppression under the Taliban.

○ Women should not walk down the street unless they are accompanied by blood relatives or wearing a burka.

○ Men should not listen to the footsteps of women, so women should not wear high-heeled shoes.

○ Women should not speak loudly in public because strangers should not be able to hear the voices of women.

○ To prevent women from being seen on the street, all residential windows on the ground and first floors should be painted or shielded.

○ Modify all place names that contain the word 'female.' 'Women's Garden,' for example, is renamed 'Spring Garden.'


Struggling to be human 

How to eradicate violence against women 


Following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, various efforts were made in Afghanistan to promote women's rights.

It was a difficult battle, but a number of non-governmental organizations and government agencies attempted to "reform Afghan law that guarantees women's rights," which resulted in the enactment of the EVAW in August 2008.

This is the first law in Afghan history to criminalize violence against women, outlawing 22 violent acts against women, including rape, assault, forced marriage, prohibition on property acquisition, and denial of employment and educational opportunities.


Go straight to Human Rights Watch:

"Afghanistan's Enforcement of the Act on the Elimination of Violence against Women (2021).

Although there are limitations, the human rights of women can be protected within the boundaries of the law. 

It was the fruit of Afghan women's painful efforts. Human Rights Watch evaluates the Evolution of Violence against Women (EVAW) as "a slow but true change and an advocacy pin for the efforts of Afghan women's human rights groups to reform other laws." 

However, with the Taliban's re-enforcement, the Evasion of Violence Act (EVAW) is on the verge of being scrapped.


Women's rights dated back 20 years in Afghanistan 


The Taliban seized Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, on August 15, and reclaimed power 20 years later. After the Afghan government surrendered without a fight, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The Taliban vowed to respect women's human rights under Sharia law, but the Taliban brutally shot a woman who went out without a burka. 

A woman was also murdered for refusing to accompany a male relative who was dressed in tight clothing.

▲ A hair salon in Kabul where women's faces on the wall were severely damaged by spray.

Politics of fear has begun. Twenty years of work for Afghan women's human rights came to naught in an instant. Burka prices are skyrocketing, and girls and women born after 2001 who have never lived under the Taliban's rule find this reality unfamiliar and frightening.

The world is watching with bated breath as courageous Afghan women take to the streets to defend human rights at the risk of their lives. 

This is due to the fact that cruel triggers can be pulled on these women at any time.

▲ On August 17, 2021, Afghan women protesting in front of Taliban soldiers demanding women's human rights.

The international community has urged the Taliban to protect its citizens’ human rights. The United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has urged Taliban leaders to respect all Afghan rights. They specifically warned women and girls not to cross the fundamental red line that should not be crossed.



How to Help Afghan Women


What can we do to help the Afghan women who are terrified?

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, the mother of refugee education in Afghanistan and the winner of the 2nd Sunhak Peace Prize, is desperately appealing to the world for interest and relief in Afghanistan.

"Our democracy could have imploded right now.

Anomalies, on the other hand, do not go away so easily.

Even the wind's whispers cannot be killed.

The Taliban will not be able to derail their dreams. 


Even if it takes longer than we anticipated, we will prevail."

- After returning to power, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi sent a letter to partners around the world. 

(Sakena Yacoobi's Special Letter:

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who risked his life to run an underground school for girls under the Taliban in the late 1990s, founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995 and provided education and vocational training to 13 million refugees in order to improve Muslim women's rights and social status.

The Afghans will return to a peaceful life in a short time, as Dr. Yacoobi predicted. 

Even in the midst of this ruthless violence, there are people with ideals and beliefs, and Afghanistan will rise again one day.

Everyone's attention and solidarity are urgently needed so that women and children in Afghanistan who have been harmed by the harsh reality do not abandon the "heart of hop."



| How to help Afghanistan

Make a contribution to the Afghan Learning Institute (AIL)

For a United Nations peacekeeping force

The International Committee of the Red Cross


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