They used starvation as a political tool, denying emergency food supplies to 160,000 civilians. They closed people up in containers and let them suffocate. They used a scorched-earth policy against political foes, burning thousands of acres of cropland. But more than anything, they were oppressive of women. Time magazine reported that “the Taliban often argued that the restrictions they placed on women were actually a way of revering and protecting the opposite sex.” (February 10, 2002) Most of the world, including most mainstream Muslims, hotly disagreed.
Human Trafficking. Non-Pashtun women – especially from the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara ethnic groups – were targeted for sale as slaves. In 1999 in the Shomali Plains, more than 600 women were abducted and trucked to serve soldiers in Al-Qaeda training camps or to Pakistan, where they were sold to private households or brothels as sex slaves. A Taliban commander named Nurulidah disapproved of this practice and said that he and his men freed numerous women who were being held for sale.
Systematic Oppression of Women. In 1998, Physicians for Human Rights wrote, “No other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into house arrest.”
Women were expected to be unseen, unheard – even unsmelled! Some of the restrictions placed on women include:
- Women must wear a burqa (a long robe covering from head to foot, with a screen before the eyes so they could see) whenever they are outside the home. A woman not so covered is subject to a public whipping.
- Women can be whipped in public if their ankles are not covered.
- A woman may not be treated by a male doctor.
- The use of cosmetics is strictly prohibited. (Women wearing nail polish had their fingers cut off.)
- No woman is allowed outside the home for any reason unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, husband, or brother), Women outside the home alone are subject to a public whipping.
- Girls are not allowed to go to school. Many girls’ schools were burned down; others were converted into religious seminaries. The rationale is, girls do not need an education to satisfy their husbands’ sexual needs, bear and raise children, or do household work. Furthermore, educating women is dangerous because it distorts their mentality and makes them question religious authority.
- Women are not allowed to work outside the home. They made an exception for a few female nurses and doctors who were allowed to work in restricted areas of a few hospitals (since women and girls could not be treated by male doctors).
- Women are not allowed to deal with male shopkeepers; they must deal via the mahram who accompanies them everywhere.
- If a woman is accused of having sex outside marriage – whether adultery or extra-marital fornication – she is liable to be publicly stoned to death. Generally, an accusation is considered sufficient proof of guilt.
- Women are not permitted to go onto balconies of their own apartment or houses.
- Windows must be painted black so that women inside are not visible to outsiders.
- Women are not allowed to touch or talk to males other than their close relatives.
- Women are not allowed to laugh or speak loudly in public. No one except family should ever hear a woman’s voice.
- Women must wear shoes that make no sound whatsoever when they walk.
- No woman may ride in a taxi unless she is accompanied by a mahram.
- Pictures of women may not be displayed in shops or houses, and may not be printed in magazines or newspapers.
- Male tailors may not sew women’s clothes – and most especially, take women’s measurements.
- Women may not wear brightly colored (“sexually attracting”) clothing.
- Women may not play sports or even enter a sports club or gym.
- Women may not wash clothes in public places such as next to rivers.
- No place can have the word “woman” or “women.” A “woman’s garden” should be called a “spring garden” instead.
- Women may not go to public baths.
- Women may not be heard on the radio or seen on television.
- Women may not attend public gatherings of any kind.
- Women may not ride bicycles or motorcycles, even if accompanied by a mahram, since they would need to assume an “obscene” posture.
- Women may not attend festivities such as the Eid or any recreational gathering.
- Women may not travel on the same bus as men. “Women only” buses are occasionally available.
- No woman may be photographed.
- Women are not allowed to wear flare-legged pants, even if completely concealed under a burqa.
- Ironically, the Taliban have outlawed caging animals and birds; however, imprisoning women within the four walls of their home is considered “protecting” them.
A denier of the veil is an infidel and an unveiled woman is lewd. Conditions for wearing the veil –
- It must cover the entire body
- Women’s clothes must not be thin
- Women’s clothes may not be colorful and decorated.
- Women’s clothes must not be tight-fitting and narrow to prevent tempting limbs from being noticed. The veil must not be thin.
- Women must not perfume themselves. If a perfumed woman passes by a crowd of men, she is considered to be an adulteress.
- Women’s clothes must not resemble men’s clothes.
- Women must not perfume themselves.
- Women must not wear adorning clothes.
- Women must not wear thin clothes.
- Women must not wear narrow and tight clothes.
- Women must cover their entire bodies.
- Women’s clothes must not resemble men’s clothes.
- Muslim women’s clothes must not resemble non-Muslim women’s clothes.
- Women’s footwear must not produce any sound.
- Women’s garments must not make any noise.
- Women may not walk in the middle of streets.
- Women may not go out of their houses without their husbands’ permission.
- Women must not talk to strange men.
- If it is necessary for women to talk, they must do so in a low voice and without laughter.
- Women must not look at strangers.
- Women may not mix with strangers.
In addition, all Afghans under the Taliban are subject to further restrictions:
- No one is allowed to listen to music.
- No one is allowed to listen to the radio, or watch television or videos.
- Labor Day (May 1st) has been banned because it is considered a Communist holiday.
- Everybody with a non-Islamic (i.e., Arab) name must change it to a proper Islamic name.
- The traditional Afghan New Year’s Day (March 21, Nowroz) is banned as being un-Islamic.
- Men must not shave their beards – mostly to prove that they are not women.
- Men must wear “Islamic” clothing and cover their heads with turbans or hats.
- Men should attend prayers in mosques five times daily.
- Kite-flying is banned as being “un-Islamic.”
- Afghan boys must cut their hair.
- Boys must wear turbans in school.
- Anyone carrying “objectionable” literature will be executed.
- Anyone who converts from Islam to another religion will be executed.
- Non-Muslim minorities must wear distinctive badges to identify them.
- Use of the Internet is banned not only for Afghans but also for foreigners.
Now remember, ladies, all this is for your “protection.”