"Afghan women should not be allowed to work alongside men," a senior figure in the ruling Taliban said, a position if formally implemented would effectively bar them from employment in public and private sectors.
Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior figure in the Taliban who is close to the leadership, told Reuters the group would fully implement its version of sharia, or Islamic law, despite pressure from the international community to allow women the right to work where they want. "Sharia ... does not allow men and women to get together or sit together under one roof. Men and women cannot work together. That is clear. They are not allowed to come to our offices and work in our ministries," Hashimi said in an interview.
One of the vows that the Taliban had made when it stormed to power on 15 August was that "women will be allowed to leave homes alone and they will have access to education and work, but they will have to wear the hijab" — in an effort to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a strict form of Islamic rule in the late 1990s. During that era, girls and women were denied an education, and were excluded from public life.
The Taliban have suggested they have changed, including in their attitudes toward women. However, women have been banned from sports and the Taliban have used violence in recent days against women protesters demanding equal rights.
Recent controversial comments by Taliban leaders, like that of Hashimi, have exposed the Taliban’s true nature as it ignores women, who make up half of the population of the war-torn country. Here is a look at some of them:
'Women should not become ministers, only give birth'
A Taliban spokesperson last week had said that women should not become ministers and that they should only give birth. “A woman can’t be a minister, it is like you put something on her neck that she can’t carry. Not necessary for women to be in the cabinet, they should give birth. Women protesters can’t represent all women in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesperson Sayed Zekrullah Hashimi told TOLO news in a TV interview.
When the interviewer pointed out that women constitute half the population of Afghanistan, Hashimi responded by saying that they (Taliban) do not consider the protesters to represent that half of the population.
A Taliban spokesman on @TOLOnews: "A woman can't be a minister, it is like you put something on her neck that she can't carry. It is not necessary for a woman to be in the cabinet, they should give birth & women protesters can't represent all women in AFG."
Video with subtitles👇 pic.twitter.com/CFe4MokOk0
— Natiq Malikzada (@natiqmalikzada) September 9, 2021
'Women should stay home because fighters haven’t been trained to respect them'
In another controversial statement, a Taliban spokesman stated that women should stay home, at least for now, because some of the militants have not yet been trained not to hurt them.
The spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, called it a “temporary” policy intended to protect women until the Taliban could ensure their safety, reports The New York Times.
“We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women,” Mujahid said. “We don’t want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women. Mujahid said that women should stay home “until we have a new procedure,” and that “their salaries will be paid in their homes.”
'Boys and girls cannot study together'
Women in Afghanistan can continue to study in universities, including at post-graduate levels, but classrooms will be gender-segregated and Islamic dress is compulsory, the higher education minister in the new Taliban government said Sunday.
The minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, laid out the new policies at a news conference, saying that the Taliban did not want to turn the clock back 20 years. “We will start building on what exists today,” he said.
However, female university students will face restrictions, including a compulsory dress code. Haqqani said hijabs will be mandatory but did not specify if this meant compulsory headscarves or also compulsory face coverings.
Gender segregation will also be enforced, he said. “We will not allow boys and girls to study together,” he said. “We will not allow co-education.”
Haqqani said the subjects being taught would also be reviewed. While he did not elaborate, he said he wanted graduates of Afghanistan's universities to be competitive with university graduates in the region and the rest of the world.
The group also has said female students, lecturers and employees who continue to receive and impart education, must wear hijabs in accordance with the group’s interpretation of Sharia law.
#Afghan women organised a seminar at #Kabul University to express their support for #Hijab, segregated education and the new #Taliban government in #Afghanistan.#AfghanWomen pic.twitter.com/SJ7gIijQL8
— زاھىد ئەختەر - Zahid Akhtar (@ZahidDOAM) September 11, 2021
'A woman without a hijab is like a sliced melon'
In another misogynistic comment, a Taliban member reportedly compared women to “sliced melons” being sold in a market. A BBC journalist took to Twitter to share a video in which a Talibani official is seen making an appalling analogy to justify the hijab. The Taliban 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
With inputs from agencies