Investigating the possible consequences of Islamic Emirate formation on women’s social statues from people perspective

Afghan Women --  Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/camafghanistancam/5937854634; By: Aga Khan Foundation: Sandra Calligaro; Permission: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Investigating the possible consequences of Islamic Emirate formation on women’s social status from the people's perspective   

Afghans for Progressive Thinking: Art of Academic Research 

Team Members / Authors
Maryam Balkhi and Zahra Sorosh Amiry

Supervisor:
Mr. Liaqat Ali Akhlaqi

Year 2 — September 2021


Editor's Note:  About a year ago, we were approached by one of the founders of an Afghani teaching program called the Art of Academic Research.  She told us that Afghani students lacked knowledge about academic research practices, and she and a colleague had started a program (described in her own words, below) to try to remedy that.  She asked if we would be willing to publish the best paper to come out of her program as the "prize" to incentivize students to work hard on their research. We agreed, as we believe that this kind of training is important for students world-wide, and had no doubt that it would be particularly useful in Afghanistan, given the difficulties that country faces in terms of education, and particularly, women's education. So we wanted to do what little we could to help this effort.

What follows, first, is the founder's short description of the program, and then, the wining paper.  Given BI's very low level of funding, we were not able to edit the paper—it still contains errors that would not be made had the writer been a native English speaker.  But if readers keep in mind that this was written by an Afghani student, who had the perseverance to continue working on it (no doubt under great risk for doing so) after the Taliban regained control of the country, it is very impressive. And it gives good insight into the challenges Afghani women now face.


About Art of Academic Research: AAR was a short-term research training program that aimed to promote the art of academic research in Balkh-Mazaer-e-Sharif. The program was designed to train university senior students in designing and implementing a research project. This training program covered topics such as research design, research methodologies, sampling, data analysis, research report writing and finally publishing a research paper in an international journal.


Abstract

After the downfall of the capital city Kabul and the fleeing of President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban, after 20 years; have regained power once more!
 
Afghanistan, a part of a major political, social, and economic crisis, the public, primarily the women; are concerned about their health and safety. A lot worry about their future and their accomplishments over the past two decades becoming valueless. The horror of the Taliban regime traumatized the country, with the Islamic Emirate in power everyone fears these past experiences will be emulated.  , as this research found: 54.6% social and civil rights, 62.6% political participation,     47.1% in Economic positions, and 32%  in education. Would this be possible?  
 
Present and qualitative research will be applied to investigate the probable future for social, political, economic impact upon women. 

Introduction

Through their atrocities, the Taliban had reversed the progression of women’s rights by generations. In 1994; emerged the Taliban under the head rule of Mullah Mohammad Omar. Committing unlawful actions, immoral activities and employing hard line ruling they took over Afghanistan. (The Taliban) . On the other hand, government side tried to negotiate with them about peace of Afghanistan.  Finally, in 2020, they formally agreed to participate in peace talks. (Dwecha wala Dari, 2020)Early on 2020, A treaty was signed with the united states of America attempting to end the eighteen years war in Afghanistan. A treaty was signed with the united states of America attempting to end the eighteen years war in Afghanistan. (council forign relations, 2020)
 
Despite these peace talks, unfortunately Kabul collapsed in only one day. It was not as easy as with thought, but President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan without taking any military action. (the gurardian for 200 years, 2021)
It is crystal clear that Taliban have repeatedly wanted change the current constitutional law of Afghanistan, the government declined. (khabargozari tasnim, 2019) Law of Afghanistan, the government declined. (khabargozari tasnim, 2019) Now the Taliban have reclaimed Afghanistan. A change in constitutional law in Afghanistan is highly likely, the potential issues here are as follows; will the Taliban accept democracy and civil rights primarily for women? And will the Taliban accept and respect women rights in Afghanistan? 
 
This research paper aims to inform the probably consequences of the Islamic Emirate on women’s social statues from people perspective.
 

An overview of women’s life under Taliban domination

Women are the manifestation and reflection of love, courage, strength and sacrifices all around the world.  At the present time, the role of women has changed in the society. If we consider a society as a bird for evolution, flying, and reaching to the highest peaks of success, the bird needs a pair of powerful wings. So, in a society women are one of these wings and men are another, the marching side by side of each other in every single stage of life. If we have a glimpse at human history from beginning until now, we can ascertain that women have suffered much more problems, hardship and they come across enormous amount of challenges in their lives. By the arrival of 21st century, we can clearly see significant changes and improvements in their positions, reinstatement of their rights in social, political, cultural, academic, sports and other sectors. Luckily, women have achieved remarkable self-sufficiency, public awareness and most importantly financial independence. (KARAM, 2018)
 
During Taliban reign, the vast majority of women are completely excluded from above mentioned groups and organizations. Throughout the past history of Afghanistan, women were not involved in government or private sectors nor they had high rank position in government. Alongside these issues, women have endured sexual harassment and persecution in Afghanistan. For instance, in 2015, the World Health Organization reported that 90% of women in Afghanistan had experienced at least one instance of domestic violence.  17% of women were impaired by sexual violence, and 52% suffered physical violence. (World health organizition, 2015)
 
According to available evidence, women encountered more violence and severity during Taliban regime. Not having the right to educate, deprived of health services, being forced into underage marriage, being forced to wear Burqa , are the clear evidence and practical examples of the severity of violence against women. Beside these, they even didn’t have the choice how to appear in the public. For instance, in October 1996, a woman was punished because of the varnish of her nails! (The SUN, 2021)
 
For example, an eighteen years old Aysha was married to a husband, Baad. She endured brutality and wildness in her family, so she decided to make a run to her father’s home. After a while Taliban caught her and they cut her nose and ears as a punishment, a desperatelyevil action. Bibi Aysha was still alive but she suffered hardship and loneliness for long time. (The guardian 200 year, 2010)
 
So being a woman in Afghanistan is extremely hard and daunting because she has to deal with men who are under the influence of traditional cultures and customs. As Phyllis Chesler says: “It is impossible for a Westerner to imagine the deadening of a protected life under house arrest” Eventually, it is grateful for a small outdoor outing or trip, is allowed to watch the men and boys flying kites! But unfortunately, this becomes a daily routine for women in Afghanistan! (chesler)
 
Without any warning, there was a rapid change in Afghan women life. As the international community interfered and started a new area. The area of evolution and justice for women in Afghanistan! The first voice was raised was the voice for right of learning education and having right to vote which clearly demanded their participation in different aspects such as politics and education. Luckily, in 2004, the new constitutional law of Afghanistan gave the rights to women to participate in every part of government. The good news is nowadays, vast majority of people say yes to the women rights. (R.Allen & Brown, 2020)
 
Although these changes in the last two recent years, along with the growth of girls' and women's activities in society,  level of contradictions and violence against them and their activities has also increased. To illustrate, in the last few years, a large number of journalists, civil society and human rights activists have been targeted for assassinations. Forty percent of them are women journalists. According to a BBC report, Afghan officials concluded that the Taliban were behind the assassinations. (BBC NEWS, 2021)Afghan social activist Karima Rahimiar says: "In previous years, the Taliban had committed atrocities that we are witnessing in the current offensive.
 

Women’s achievements and developments in society away from the influence of the Taliban

According to US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), living conditions for Afghan women has improved significantly since 2001. Afghan woman has made remarkable achievements in verity of different areas such as education, justice, politics and economical participation. 

Education:

After breakdown of Islamic Emirate, The regime of Taliban, about 3.5 millions of Afghan girls has been enrolled in schools and entitled to continue their education. Similarly, the literacy rate of girls bitterly increased from 20% in 2005 to 39% in 2017 which indicates an improvement in educational status of girls in this country.

Political participation: 

After breakdown of Taliban regime, United States and other governments decided to sponsor Afghanistan to bring rapid changes to the infrastructure of government. The result of these sponsorships and supports was extremely huge.  Women officially got the right to gain high-ranking political positions such as embassies, ministries, and presidencies. Meanwhile, women held 27 percent of parliament seats and 25 percent of provincial council seats in Afghanistan’s government. Luckily, almost fifty percent of the community development council is made up of women. The widespread presence of women in Afghanistan’s government showed the equality and justice of government. 

Economic activities:

It is hard to believe but, luckily in recent years, compared to the past women's business activities have grown significantly. By the financial support of the United States and its allies, and the implementation of various useful programs for women's self-sufficiency had notable consequences. Recently, many women work as entrepreneurs to empower themselves and their society. According to SIGAR Report, between 2007 and 2017, women participations in economic activities have increased from 27% to 42%.  After Taliban regime, the participation and designation of women in society have expanded and they began to work like men. For example, they had remarkable presence in the media, and their participation in demonstrations in defense of their rights is never known to have happened. (Special Inspector Genral for Afghanistan Reconstruction, 2021).

Social and civil activities:

Over twenty years in the past, we have seen an increase in educational and work capacity of women in Afghanistan. Despite the dire security situation, prejudice, gender and ethnic discrimination, women have had remarkable success. These include appearing in government agencies, running in elections, participating in lawsuits and demonstrations, appearing in cinemas and theaters, and actively participating in social media. According to the statistics of (8 Sobh) newspaper in 2009, 24% of government employees were women. (8 Sobh news, 2020)
 

Research Findings

Although it is very difficult to talk about the possible consequences of formation of the Islamic Emirate on social status of women! Researchers take available evidence and reports into account and they collected people's opinions through two-approach method, questionnaire and Delphi. First of all, via questionnaire, the ideas of 400 citizens of Mazar-e-Sharif stratified randomly collected and in the second step, 20 experts such as civil society activists, journalists, university professors, and provincial council lawyers were interviewed. The critical situation in the country confirms the consensus that formation of the Islamic Emirate, without any regard to the rights and freedoms of women, and supervision of the United Nations and its observer members, will be like a terrible windstorm that disturb women's lives in the first place. It turns upside down and then reaches to the peak of humiliation in the canyon of misery!
 
Afghanistan will be witness in a wide wave of hopelessness and wide range of changes in women's lives in the social sphere, educational, politics and economic constraints. The power of bullets and Taliban coercion will change Afghan women into women who breathe in the form of a lifeless body.  She will be alive but she will never live!
 
To begin with, Afghan women might see far-reaching changes in their social lives.  Respondents believe this is related to three key issues. The course of the negotiations, the results of the negotiations and the current situation:
 
  1. Negotiation: It means does the afghan negotiating team have capacity to defend and protect women's social rights and freedoms after the formation of Islamic Emirate government in negotiation process which is still in progress?  Are they able to satisfy the opposition side in to accept the rights and freedoms of Afghans, especially women? 
  2. Results of the negotiations: The issues that are going to be negotiated should be clearly and openly present in the national and international media, under the supervision of the United Nations, the United States, and its allies. Is this guaranteed no other deal that required? Thus, a window of hope will be provided for this innocent and oppressed women, Which after that, rights and freedom will no longer sacrificed and violated to peace and secret deals, and they will have what they deserve, just like a free bird, a high-flying pigeon, capable of flying in the desired direction on sky.
  3. Current situation; Considering the current situation of Afghanistan, especially in the districts, clearly shows that there is no any positive changes in their ideologies,  And they have become even more extreme than ever, such as, three months ago when the Balkh district collapsed, now no woman has the courage to work in public and private offices. Fear has gripped all women. Woman’s voice can no longer be heard on Nawbahar Radio , Silence has taken over the whole city. But instead, According to radio managing director, the Taliban are forcing the stations staff to broadcast the Taliban program and songs. (Avapress, 2021) Hence, Taliban have once again proved that women will have no place in their regime; otherwise, they would have obeyed women's rights, And we had had a woman at the negotiating table from Taliban side, albeit symbolically!  According to the questionnaire:
 

As it seen in the diagram above, 4.0% of respondents selected all the time, 23.0% of them often, 18.4% of them are neutral, 42.7% rarely and 11.9% never. So to sum it up, the majority of respondents believe, Afghanistan will have some relative setbacks and may restrict some of the social and civil rights and freedoms of women!

 
Second, respondents believe that by formation of the Islamic Emirate government, restrictions on women's education in the long run will increase.
 

As portrayed in the diagram above, 8.3% of respondents selected never, 23.7% of them rarely, 15.4% of them are neutral 37.6% often and 14.9% all the time. So to sum it up, lots of people believe that, after formation of Islamic emirate, women will be allowed to continue their education!

It is noteworthy and considerable that once Taliban leader stated in a statement in17/8 /2021 that they accept the rights and freedoms of women in Islamic law (INDEPENDENT PERSIAN, 2021). But it is still unclear that what is Taliban's comprehension from Islam? Meanwhile, after 11days falling whole country the gates of schools and universities haven’t been opened yet and no final decision has been made on the resumption of educations.  As the world is in the picture, Taliban are always extremism in the implementation of Islamic law. Accordingly, all matters related to women religious rights, from school to doctoral studies, must first be clearly defined, and then, by opening the gates of the university, practically show that there are no obstacles for women in order to carry on their education. Otherwise, all women will suffer the hardships and challenges that Taliban regime had in the past.To be noticed the involvement of international organizations and the protection of women's rights, especially the right of education is necessary because it is the woman from whom the society is created, and they are the corner stone of society. Without a doubt, a well-organized, well-behaved and well-educated woman will raise a conscious generation. Restrictions on women will plunge society into the wrath of darkness and misery!
 
Third, respondents believe that after the recognition of the Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan may experience a number of setbacks in the area of women's rights and political freedoms. Although it is clear from Taliban ideology that they seem to be willing to accept these rights, but after recognition will brings some limitations on participating into political rallies, councils, free media and depriving women from working in government positions, While according to Islamic law, women have equal rights to work and have political participation.
 

As it mentioned in the diagram above, 15.4% of respondents selected all the time, 47.2% of them often, 15.9% of them neutral, 17.2% rarely and 4.3% never. So at conclude, a large number of people believe which signing of a peace agreement could marginalize women in governance!

Fourth, respondents believe that after the formation of Islamic Emirate government, restrictions may be imposed on economical entrepreneurs’ activities of women’s. Although in recent years, the economic activities of entrepreneurs women in the labor market has become more colorful, but it seems that by the time , the presence of women in the economic labor market will be limited and they will be excluded from such activities. In addition, as evidence from the past history of Taliban people has not seen any woman in the Taliban region who could trade and work freely. As a result, domestic violence and rate of poverty will increase primarily in female-headed households.
 

As previewed in the diagram here, 9.8% of respondents selected never, 37.4% of them rarely, 14.9% of them are neutral, 29.5% often and 8.3% all the time.In a nutshell, a large number of people believe that, the Islamic Emirate government will not be willing to give the same working rights for men and women.

Are the Taliban has changed or not?

The Taliban claim, their ideology and behavior toward women have changed. However, their actions determine the opposite. Wahidullah Hashimi a senior commander of Taliban said “The future government will not be democratic at all, because democracy has no base in our country. We are not discussing about what kind of government should be established in Afghanistan, because it is quite clear. "It is the rule of Shariat and that is enough." (farsi alarabiya, 2021)
 
Since the toppling of the Afghanistan government (August the 24th) women have not worked. Recently, at their latest statement they announced; women have to stop their jobs because the Taliban armies do not know how to behave with women. With this quote women are left with no job and their lives on pause or rewind! (BBC news, 2021)
in addition of all these, Zabihullah Mujahid said in his latest statement; There will be no place for women in the cabinet and according to the law of shari’a, women cannot become ministers! However This is not mentioned the case in the Shari'a. (atlaspress, 2021)
 
Likewise, women are not allowed to work on media except Tolo TV which had several women reporters for limited days then lots of those women’s voice got silenced as well. As Ms.ShabnamSalahshor one of journalists said « however journalists supposed the Taliban do not Violet women’s rights this much but they did. They forced Afghans journalists to keep silent and now all female journalists are in danger they want to leave the country even if at the cost of their lives». (Amiry & Balkhi, 2021)
 
In districts and some remote areas which already controlled by the Taliban, girls are not allowed to continue their education after elementary school.As well as, women are not allowed to go out without mahram . So these evidence shows that Taliban did not change but they want to seem like a changed Taliban and they know that they are under focus of world and social media now. But, unfortunately in remote areas which people haven’t access to the internet. Their extremism action against women still going on. 
 
Therefore, the United Nations and other international organizations must support women and save their rights. At least after this, the achievements, the rights, and freedom of these oppressed women will no longer be ruined.
 
In addition, it’s worth mentioning that Taliban having to know that Afghan new generation is not like the previous one, now they are educated and more conscious. This time, if their rights become violated, they do not remain silent and calm.
 

Conclusion

After 20 years of fighting, the Taliban were able to seize power in Afghanistan, people are now worried, primarily females who have always been more vulnerable in Afghan society.
 
Therefore, considering the oppression and persecution that Taliban have committed against women for many years, the new educated generation are a shadow to this relabeled! Twenty years since the fall of the Taliban government, Afghanistan had good security and tranquility. Meanwhile, during these twenty years, Afghan women despite gender and racial discrimination and the obstacles, that stood in their way, made significant progress in various fields. But by formation of the Islamic emirate, it is feared that all these rights, freedom and achievements that the people have been working for twenty years will be lost overnight.
 
It is noteworthy that the Taliban vague statements and their lack of purpose for women's rights in the light of Islamic law have doubled women concerns. Therefore, in order to address the concerns, it is necessary for Taliban to present their statements accurately and clearly in the presence of the domestic and foreign media.
 
In addition, signing of treaty and enactment of laws by the IslamicEmirate, without considering the presence and support of the United Nations and regional organizations, there will be major setbacks and humanitarian catastrophes in the country, which cannot be compensated in any way.
 

About the Authors:

Maryam Balkhi 

Maryam Balkhi daughter of Abdul Qadir Balkhi was born in 1998 in Mazar-e- sharif Afghanistan. She graduated from Fatema Balkhi high school in 2016. Then she started higher education in public policy and public administration faculty of Balkh University in 2017. Unfortunately, due to present political criss, Dis- harmony and depriving women from higher educations by the Taliban she couldn’t complete her bachelor’s degree. She worked at Samaa Tv as a reporter from 2019 up  to 2021, with Afghan youths empowerment and change family as a provincial coordinator and provincial director, voluntarily providing quality education , working for human rights and women’s rights in education sector from 2018-2021.  Meanwhile, she completed Let’s Talk and New Total English packages which is from A1 to C1  CEFR levels at X-pert training and testing center. In addition, she has successfully completed Art of academic research program lately.

She believes  writing is her true calling and She is enthusiastic to write articles and she did lots of her efforts to this present article and (Investigating the level of corruption in  national unity government) However she devastated trough this situation in Afghanistan but still she has strong desire to be a great writer and defend female rights and be a expressive sound for those people who forced to be silent.

Zahra Sorosh

Zahra Sorosh Amiry is senior of English Language and literature in Balkh University. Since starting the university she actively worked to organize educational and cultural programs in Balkh university. With an aim to help poor children by encouraging them to join school and study, and help afghan young women pursue their professional career. And in order to approach her goals she has voluntarily worked with some associations  which support poor and orphan children, also voluntarily taught English in CLC (Community Learning Center in Mazar e Sharif). In addition of her main major she is passionate for art and painting. Recently, Zahra participated in a competitive painting event which she had to bring the subject of peace in form of her paintings and she selected in the top ten artists from the total of 300 participant. And she used the event to sell some of her painting and donated the collections to buying school supplies for children who could not afford to buy supplies and encourage them to continue their studies.

 
 

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