Under the Taliban regime women had little or no freedom in terms of civil liberties. However, the situation improved in the late 2001 when the Taliban regime was thrown away from the Islamist Republic of Afghanistan. The 2004 constitution of Afghanistan which again reiterated women’s rights as it was in 1964. Though women’s rights in Afghanistan were not comparable to the international standards of Human Rights yet things were improving. But the Taliban 2.0 happened in 2021 and the uncertainty cantering the lives of women in Afghanistan wreaked havoc in the psyche of Afghan women.
To bring the challenges of Afghan women to the forefront and in the eyes of the international community, a Delhi based think tank, Red Lantern Analytica, on Friday invited eminent Afghan origin experts to discuss on the topic titled, “Role of International Media in Safeguarding Women’s rights under Taliban”.
Nargis Nehan, the Former Minister, Mines and petroleum, Afghanistan, Zarifa Ghafari, Afghanistan’s former Mayor and Human Rights Activist, Heather Barr, Associate Director, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, Roya Musawi, Former Spokesperson of International Committee of Red Cross Afghanistan, Habiba Ashna, International Affairs Expert, Yalda Sarwar, Afghan Canadian Journalist, poet and community organiser.
Nehan, who has been quoted as the “Iron Woman of Kabul by Bloomberg” pointed out that such kind of seminars would help understand what it was, that the international community had failed to do so, that this kind of a situation has arrived in Afghanistan. According to Nargis, the victory of the Taliban wasn’t inevitable, rather it had been imposed by others.
There was a belief that since the Afghans were disappointed with Ashraf Ghani’s government, they had supported the Taliban. But this was not the case. The support was acquainted with the fear of death. yet the fact that the former president would run away leaving his countrymen at the mercy of the Talibans was absolutely unpredictable, according to Nehan.
Ghafari, Afghanistan’s former Mayor and Human Rights Activist recalled that women in Afghanistan have been part of reconstruction, not war. And yet women are the ones who have to pay the highest price in the process.
Barr claimed that the international community must press for the Taliban to stop abusing women. She mentioned that the international media coverage is not fair, and is diluted.
She also pointed our that the Taliban can never be trusted with women rights in Afghanistan and they have demonstrated that very clearly.
She also emphasised on the role that the media has played in bringing the stories from Afghanistan in front of the world.
Musawi remarked that the media in the West have spread the Taliban propaganda and have focused disproportionately on them, to the detriment of the protests of the population. They present a partial and simplistic view of the crisis of Afghanistan.
According to Musawi, the situation in Afghanistan is one of armed conflict where the parties in conflict, especially the Talibans have no respect for international humanitarian law. This is well exhibited in their latest demonstration of violence in the country, especially against women and children.
Ashna, an Afghan activist and researcher on Afghan politics remarked that the role of a government is not to guarantee individuals access to paradise. In this regard, what exists in Afghanistan now is far from democracy, rather its actual mulácracy that has now despised fundamental human rights.
Sarwar elaborated how she had many times been targeted by fundamentalist groups and specific media outlets. She claimed that all Afghans had been battling extremely difficult situations.