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Impact The Taliban's Progression in Afghanistan: Human Rights Abuse, Prejudice and Inequality Against Women

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Human rights for women in Afghanistan have been severely violated in recent decades. Before the Taliban regime, life used to be different for women in Afghanistan. They had many rights, to wear what they wanted, to be educated and to be employed. With the rise of the Taliban, women were stripped of their rights and had to follow the Taliban laws. Violations of human rights vary from women’s freedoms and security of person to discrimination in employment and education and lack of equality before the law. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, women’s rights have improved gradually, but women are still subject to control and suffer a high level of violence.

The rights of women are specified in a range of international human rights instruments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) lays out the rights of all people, including the right to equality before the law and the right to non-discrimination. In regards to the right to equality, the Universal Declaration specifies in Article 7 that: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination” (Office of the HIgh Commissioner on Human Rights, n.d). The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on 18 December 1979, and on 3 September 1981 it became an international treaty. The adopted measures that are specifically relevant to women in Afghanistan are mentioned in Article 1-Discrimination made on the basis of sex, Article 6-Exploition of Prostitution of Women, Article 10 and 11- Equal rights for Men and Women in regards to employment and education. The United Nations ensure the laws specified to eliminate discrimination against women and to allow them equal rights in society (United Nations, 2009). On December 10, 1948, Afghanistan was one among the forty eight countries to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Unethiopia, 2014). Afghanistan also signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1980 (Nations, CHAPTER IV Human Rights, 2016).

The Taliban regime reversed rights that had been enjoyed by women in Afghanistan. A photograph taken in Kabul June 1978 shows that women in Afghanistan were freely walking down the streets in knee-length skirts and high heels. However, more recent photos of women in Afghanistan show that there has been a dramatic change, which indicates a violation of women’s rights and freedom to wear what they want (Sarkar, 2015). Under the Taliban laws, women were forced at all times in public to wear a burqa, which is a garment that covers the whole body even the eyes. They were not allowed to leave their home and walk the streets without a male relative with them. The Taliban’s policy severely limited women’s freedom of movement, for example for an Afghan woman to travel a relative had to accompany her. The Taliban issued an official order in May 2001, which restricted women from driving cars. Furthermore, it limited their health and social life to meet with other Afghan women, which resulted in isolation. (Vyas, 2015).

Since 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, Afghan women’s rights have improved in many areas of education, employment and violence. However, women still suffer from oppression and abuse. In January 2002, the “Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women” was signed by the Head of the Interim administration, Hamid Karzai, which proclaimed the right to equality between men and women. (Nations, The situation of women in Afghanistan, 2002). In 2004, a constitution was approved that made men and women equal citizens under the law and it is important that women make up 25% of the New Parliament. In 2007, women in Afghanistan set themselves on fire in order to escape their forced marriage (Foundation, R. R., 2016). In 2009, the government passed a decree criminalizing violence against women. As a result 350 men were prosecuted for breaching this decree. However, it has been challenged as un-Islamic law (Constable, 2013). In 2012, a 16 year old girl at the time, Malala Yousafzai was shot on her way to school by a Taliban gunman. She became an activist fighting for women’s right to education, cooperating with the United Nations (Husain, 2013). Even though Afghan women’s rights have shown improvement after the fall of the Taliban, many of their rights are still being violated.

After the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women still experience discrimination in education and employment. In Afghanistan men are more likely to finish education or even access the right to education than women. Major gender inequities persist in the Afghan education system. It has the highest level of gender differentiation in the world in regards to primary education, with only 71 girls attending primary for every 100 boys according to the Afghan Ministry of Education. Only twenty one percent of girls complete primary education. Cultural barriers such as early marriage prevent girls’ education. (Strand, 2015). Sixty per cent of girls are married by the age of 16 years, many from forced marriage. Girls from poor families lose their chance to gain an education. There is also a lack of female teachers. Combined, these factors lead to 85% of women in Afghan having no formal education. Women in Afghanistan have been greatly discriminated against regarding to education, but according to the World Bank in 2012 statistics showed tremendous improvement in girls attending formal education (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2014). The second area of discrimination Afghan women face is unemployment. Women now have the right to be employed but their husbands can affect that right by refusing them permission to work. With high unemployment rates, most men believe that employing women will only take the jobs from men. Men have been harassing Afghan women into unemployment and has been affecting their daily work environment and safety. They have been threatened with rape and sexually harassed, but many women tend to bear these violations in silence, as they feel that to complain would not be an option for them, as they will face harsh consequences (Kittleson, 2016).

Even after the Taliban, domestic violence against women is still very widespread in Afghanistan and became the most crucial rights violation women still face in their daily life. Afghan women can experience domestic abuse for reasons including wearing unappropriated clothing, going out of the house without their husband’s permission, refusing sex or for small things like burning the food. It unlikely that Afghan women would report being abused, because they are economically and socially dependent on the violent family members (Moylan, 2015). A study undertaken in 2006 by the Global Rights, an international nongovernmental organization found that 85 percent of Afghan women reported that they had experienced physical, sexual, or psychological violence or forced marriage. Domestic violence is also linked attempted suicide. Each year an estimate of 2,000 Afghan women and girls set themselves on fire in order to escape violence or forced marriage (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Abuse against women by their husbands is also initiated under the influence of drugs and alcohol, when they aren’t in control of their actions. In December 2013, an abused woman ‘Setara’, was brutally attacked by her husband possibly under the effect of drugs. The majority of abused women do not seek a legal divorce. A survey by the UN on violence against women took a result in only having 5% cases ending in prosecution in a formal court (Rasmussen, 2015).

Women have been subjected to punishment for being raped, committing adultery and having an unmarried pregnancy. Having sex outside of marriage (Zina) was considered a crime, and based on The Human Rights Watch there are about 400 women and girls are being held in Afghan prisons and juvenile detention facilities for committing adultery. A recent report ‘I had to run away’ states that even if a women is raped, the predator isn’t the one to be punished, it is the women. Rape could initiate a women’s decision in running away from their homes and it is considered a crime for women, resulting in 10 years of imprisonment. The Afghan Supreme Court has instructed its judges to treat women and girls who flee without permission as criminals, even though under the Afghan criminal code it is not considered a crime. Men in Afghanistan have took this law as an advantage to have power and control over women. This is used to their advantage by making accusations against women to cover up or justify their crimes, threats include underage marriage, rape, assault, and forced prostitution also known as Zina. Under the Afghan law, Zina is a punishable crime by up to 15 years in prison. (Human Rights Watch, 2012) It appears that despite the government’s 2009 decree the actual practice of law in Afghanistan is more influenced by patriarchal religious and cultural values than it is motivated by women’s human rights.

The Taliban had forced Afghan men and women into strict specific laws or rules that restricted most of women’s rights to freedom of movement and clothing, security of person and right to education and employment. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, improved laws were and are still being passed to recognise women’s rights back, or support women experiencing oppression and abuse. However, legal practice does not always reflect this change. Around 2000 Afghan women and girls every year commit suicide to free themselves from the pain of living as an Afghan women. If they were to run away from rape or abuse they can receive a punishment of ten years in prison as it has been considered a crime under the order of the Afghan Supreme Court but not the Afghan criminal code. Women were and still are greatly discriminated against, and used for advantage by their husband or other men and still suffer from domestic violence.

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Impact The Taliban’s Progression in Afghanistan: Human Rights Abuse, Prejudice and Inequality Against Women. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from
“Impact The Taliban’s Progression in Afghanistan: Human Rights Abuse, Prejudice and Inequality Against Women.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
Impact The Taliban’s Progression in Afghanistan: Human Rights Abuse, Prejudice and Inequality Against Women. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Feb. 2023].
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