KABUL, Afghanistan – Her mother begged her not to protest, even as Maryam Hassanzadeh walked out the door.
But 24-year-old Hassanzadeh reassured her mother that she was protesting with a dozen other women. Taliban decree Afghan women need to cover themselves from head to toe this month.
Exposing their faces, the women chanted “Justice! Justice!” And “Stop oppression against women!” They protested for about 10 minutes before the Taliban gunmen almost broke up the protest. The demonstrators said they were detained for two hours by Taliban security personnel, interrogated and then released with a warning not to protest again.
Ms. Hassanzadeh bowed.
“If we don’t protest, the world will not know how badly Afghan women are oppressed,” she later said.
These are dangerous times for Afghan women. Not only did the Taliban show no sign of easing the crackdown on fundamental rights. Education And jobs for women, but in every aspect of public life, from exile to travel.
The cover-up order, which urged women to stay indoors as long as they had no reason to go out, followed a precedent that was required. Women who travel About 45 miles from home is to go with a male relative.
In August, the Taliban promised. Less restrictive policies for women Compared to his previous government in the late 1990’s. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters that “there will be no violence against women, no prejudice against women.”
Instead, in the last few months, the Taliban have imposed stricter rules that have dragged women from the relative freedoms they have enjoyed over the past two decades to a harsher interpretation of Islamic law that violates women’s rights.
The order has been complied with on the streets of the capital.
In the Dasht-e-Barchi district, home to the Hazara-majority Shia Muslim minority, very few women cover their faces – except for surgical masks for CoVID-19. But in nearby Karte Naw, an ethnic Pashtun area that is part of the Sunni majority, most women wear a hijab or a headscarf, which covers their face.
Reporting from Afghanistan
Some women in Kabul said they were harassed and beaten by men on the streets when they came out in public with their faces uncovered.
Outside the capital, most women are seen obeying orders. Across the country, women say they have been accused by Taliban enforcers, sometimes violently, and ordered to cover up.
In the northern province of Takhar, Farah Naz, a university student, said religious police had set up checkpoints to inspect rickshaws carrying women to class. He said that those who were not wearing black hijab were harassed and sent home.
“I had a colored scarf on my head but they sent me back home and told me to wear a black hijab and niqab,” he said, referring to a garment that covers the hair and face in addition to the eyes. He asked to be identified by his first name for fear of retaliation.
Anisa Mohammadi, a 28-year-old lawyer in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, said she bought the burqa because she feared her dignity would be called into question if she did not wear it. He said that the religious police were closely monitoring the women and ordering them to wear veils.
In the northern Afghan province of Baghlan, Maryam, a 25-year-old women’s rights activist who refused to cover her face, said a friend was warned if she continued wearing only a headscarf. Then he will be flogged.
“I’m scared,” said Mary, who said her last name should not be published. “The Taliban told me that if my face was not covered, it would be better for me not to return to the city.”
In Kabul, a 24-year-old university student who wore a headscarf but did not cover her face in a popular recreational area said a passing Taliban gunman struck her on the head with a rifle butt. What was it that screamed to cover it? His face.
Taliban gunmen have pointed weapons at female protesters, sprayed them with pepper and called them “whores” and “puppets of the West.” Human Rights Watch has said..
Local news media reported that some female students of Kabul University were sent home by the Taliban enforcers for not complying with the hijab order. And Human Rights Watch reported that the Taliban’s religious police tried to force him. Afghan women are working for the United Nations. To hide the mission in Kabul.
Mohammad Sadiq Akif, a spokesman for the Ministry of Virtue and Deputy Minister in Kabul, denied that any women had been accused or punished. He said the ministry’s patrols did not force women to cover themselves but merely explained the decree to encourage full compliance.
And he denied that women were forced to wear the black hijab, saying that they could wear any color.
“In respect of our country’s sisters, we do not stop, demand or punish any women,” she said in an interview with the ministry. The previous government’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs was changed..
Mr Akif said: “The hijab is a command of God and must be obeyed,” adding that the rule for women is “for their own protection.”
Order, which has been ordered. Hebatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the TalibanFor women relatives who repeatedly refuse to cover themselves, a series of increased punishments, including jail time, is mandatory. Mr Akif said some of the men had been formally warned, but had not been punished.
This pressure was condemned by some women. “My father and brothers have no problem with me,” said Mozada, a 25-year-old women’s rights activist in Mazar-e-Sharif, who refused to cover her face and only used her first name for fear of retaliation. Asked to identify. .
up to Capture last summerThe Taliban have been out of power for 20 years, and many women, especially in the cities, have become accustomed to more comfortable things.
“Women are no longer the same as they were 20 years ago, and the Taliban must understand that,” said Fatima Farahi, 55, a women’s rights activist in Herat, western Afghanistan.
Ms Farahi said she and many other women in Herat had refused to cover their faces. He said that so far he and his associates had not been threatened by the Taliban.
In Kabul, protesters, calling themselves the Movement for the Powerful Women of Afghanistan, vowed to continue protesting and use social media to force women to disobey.
When Taliban gunmen ordered them to stop a recent rally, one protest leader, Monisa Mubarez, shouted: “You can’t stop our voices!”
The women said they had been warned they would be jailed for five days if they protested again.
Five Western journalists and two Afghan journalists reporting on the protest were also detained and the women were interrogated separately for two hours before being released unharmed.
Mr Akif, a deputy minister for virtue and deputy ministry, said the protesting women had made a mistake and had been given a “correct understanding” of the order by Taliban officials.
“It is not permissible to stand or protest against any kind of Islamic order and it is considered a crime,” he said. “If they understand and are shown the right way, they will never do it. I am sure they will do it.”
No way, said Zakia Zahidat, one of the protesters.
“I will come back – I will not stop protesting,” said Ms Zahidat, 24. “We are facing an economic crisis, a social crisis and a political crisis, but the Taliban only care about the hijab. Does that mean that if we wear the hijab, all our problems will be solved?”
Another protester, 25-year-old Jamila Barati, said, “Women have to fight for their rights, no matter the dangers. I will not stop protesting.”
Many women said that their husbands or parents begged them to stop. The women said they had received threatening phone calls from Taliban security personnel. Some said they moved from house to house to avoid being traced.
Ms Hassanzadeh said her mother had told her to stay indoors at all times.
But, Hassanzadeh said, she has spent most of her time at home since the Taliban fired her from a government ministry. After returning home safely on the day of the recent protests, he said, he repeated his promise to his mother.
“I said I would never leave the house – except to protest,” he said.
Najim Rahim Assisted in reporting from Houston, and Safiullah Padshah And Kiana Harry From Kabul