Afghan women pick up arms against Taliban
Women in Afghanistan's Ghor province, which is being trampled upon by the Taliban, have taken up arms to defend their motherland against the military organisation. Ghor is being trampled upon by the Taliban, who are capturing vast tracts of the country as the deadline for the withdrawal of the US-led Nato troops comes closer. Of about 400 districts of Afghanistan, the Taliban are said to be in control of over 100 districts. The month of June saw several deadly battles between the Afghan forces and the Taliban including those in Ghor, where tens of soldiers were reportedly killed.
India Today reports in a significant development, women in Ghor have taken up arms to defend their motherland against the Taliban. Photographs of Ghor women holding guns and rocket launchers are being shared on social media. The Taliban had ruled Afghanistan during 1990s imposing severe curbs on women, banning their school education and even prohibiting movement if not accompanied by a male member of the family.
Governor Abdul Zahir Faizzada, who attended one of the gatherings of women fighters, was quoted as saying, "This is our message to our security forces who are defending their nation that their sisters stand by them." "They consider themselves responsible and today they even said that they don't want the dark history of Taliban's rule to return," the governor said. "We have experience from the dark era of Taliban and once again we will not allow women to stay at their homes and not be able to go out of their homes," a woman holding an AK-47 was quoted as saying.
This is, however, not the first time that women of Ghor have taken up arms against the Taliban. In August 2020, a teenager had made international headlines after she gunned down two Taliban soldiers who had burst through the front doors of her home and "executed" her parents in the dead of the night.
Having been trained in self-defence and in using an AK-47 assault rifle, she picked up her father's gun and kept firing at the intruders until she exhausted the bullets. Outside lay five bodies - her parents, a relative and the two invaders.
According to this report of the US Department of State, women in Afghanistan "received the right to vote in the 1920s; and as early as the 1960s, the Afghan constitution provided for equality for women. There was a mood of tolerance and openness as the country began moving toward democracy." "Women were making important contributions to national development. In 1977, women comprised over 15 per cent of Afghanistan's highest legislative body. It is estimated that by the early 1990s, 70 per cent of schoolteachers, 50 per cent of government workers and university students, and 40 per cent of doctors in Kabul were women."
However, capturing Afghanistan in 1990s, the Taliban imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule. "The assault on the status of women began immediately after the Taliban took power in Kabul," the US report said. "The Taliban closed the women's university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs, closing down an important source of talent and expertise for the country. It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city." "The Taliban perpetrated egregious acts of violence against women, including rape, abduction, and forced marriage. Some families resorted to sending their daughters to Pakistan or Iran to protect them."
In its recent expansion, the Taliban are re-imposing similar diktat. In the province of Takhar, captured recently, the Taliban have ordered "moharam" for women, meaning that they cannot leave home alone. The Taliban have asked men to grow their beards and set dowry regulations for girls.
The Taliban's idea of subjugation of women was fiercely opposed not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan. Malala Yusufzai was shot in her head by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as she protested the ban on school education for girls. She became a symbol of the fight against the Taliban but that did not prevent the outfit from gaining support from Islamic clerics and funding from influential groups.
The exact number of Ghor women taking up arms to fight the Taliban is not clear but local reports say they would join hands with the police and other security personnel in their fight against the fundamentalist forces.