symbols of oppression

During the previous Taliban regime, between 1996 and 2001, the rigorous interpretation of Islamic law resulted in strong repression of womens, violently flogged and stoned when not wearing the emblematic and patriarchal burqa, a head-to-toe veil that leaves only a mesh to see through.

The promises of tolerance and flexibility after the withdrawal of the troops from USA and its allies, last August, were not fulfilled. With the return to power in Afghanistan of the Taliban group, the newly created Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which replaced the former Ministry of Women’s Affairs, re-established draconian slogans on women’s clothing and on countless issues that regulate their public life, including the recommendation that they remain indoors. So far, in words and left to free interpretation.

But last Saturday, the Taliban’s paramount chief formally decreed that women must go back to fully covering their bodies and faces in public. Mandatory burqa was seen as a way to “avoid provocation”, describing it as “traditional and respectful”. It was even confirmed that The male relatives of those women who do not cover themselves will be penalized.

Excluded from public employment, unable to travel alone or attend secondary schools for women, they will also not be able to obtain a driver’s license again. The separation between women and men has even imposed days of exclusive access for each sex in public parks. The freedoms won in recent years by more than 20 million women are once again evaporating.

The demonstrations led by women in Kabul in this new stage have been violently suppressed with numerous arrests.

The Taliban government, supposedly behind diplomatic recognition and humanitarian aid for the lack of food, work and health, is moving contrary to a path of gross betrayal of promises to respect gender equality.

The international community is scandalized by a new wave of abuses and submissions that do not respect the rights of women and condemn them to atavistic practices from centuries ago. The pressure against the regime must not cease, nor must the aid that alleviates the enormous tragedy suffered by entire families.

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