Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Taliban’s Attitude towards Women’s Rights Stated in Moscow Meeting

The rights of the Afghan women are that their sons should not be killed, their husbands should not be killed, their houses should not be destroyed, they should not be forced out of their homes. These rights should be given to the women and the rights of children also should be given to them,” Amir Khan Muttaqi, a member of the Taliban, is cited as saying in the last Moscow meeting held between the Taliban and Afghan political figures.
Muttaqi’s statement suggests that either the Taliban lack very basic knowledge of individual’s rights and freedoms or they are still seeking to tailor the rights and freedoms of women to their parochial mindset and radical interpretation of religious tenets.
One’s fundamental rights – rights to life, liberty, and property – are “inherent”, “universal” and “inalienable”. Fundamental rights are one’s natural rights, which are acquired inherently, that is, given by the Creator or nature not by the government. To put it in a simple way, people are born free and with a set of certain rights as it is stated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. For example, people are also born with dignity, which is bestowed by the Creator not by the government, and violating one’s dignity or humiliating one is not allowed at any case. Apart from international law, Islam does not allow one to humiliate or disgrace even a dead body let alone a living person. According to English philosopher John Locke, the most important natural rights are “life, liberty, and property”. The natural rights mentioned in the United States Declaration of Independence are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. The government has to protect people’s natural or fundamental rights through a social contract. Thus, natural rights are different from civil rights, which must be given and guaranteed by the power of the state.
With this in mind, the fundamental rights of children and husbands have nothing to do with their mothers and wives. Children’s rights to life or those of men solely belong to themselves and have to be protected. They do not have the authority to transfer their aforementioned fundamental rights to others. Defining the rights of women through those of their spouses or children suggest that women are still not considered an independent person or personality in the Taliban’s school of thought. They are still treated as an inferior creature and their identity is defined through that of their spouses or children. Such definitions of women’s rights are an insult to Afghan women.
It is likely that the Taliban are not inclined to consider equal rights and freedoms for men and women, which would be a violation of Afghan Constitution. Muttaqi could mention the active and equal participation of Afghan women in social, political, and economic activities and their rights to education. He said that women “should not be forced out of their homes”, but he made no mention of not being forced to stay in, as the Taliban did so during their regime.
The Taliban are supposed not to misconstrue religious texts or legal issues anymore and stop foisting their own narrow mindset on Afghan men and women. They have to be outspoken whether or not they support the rights, freedoms, and dignity of all citizens equally regardless of their race, color, and gender, as stated in the constitution. If the Taliban are seeking peace, they have to draft all issues clearly in the peace agreement, let Afghans know the content, and stay committed to the agreement.
Afghan women are highly concerned over their rights and freedoms with the ongoing discussions about the return of the “Islamic Emirate”. Viewing the Taliban’s misogynistic views during their regime, which led to the violation of women’s rights, and women’s marginalization in the ongoing peace talks are great cause for concern.
Although the Taliban have claimed they moderated their attitude towards women, it is yet to be proved. The Taliban militants still restrict the rights and freedoms of women in areas under their control. Women’s rights to education are widely trampled upon as the Taliban continue burning down girls’ schools.  
If a high-ranking Taliban leader such as Muttaqi has really that definition of women’s rights, he and his other companions seriously lack knowledge about individuals’ rights and freedoms. It clearly indicates the highly restricted worldview of the Taliban. It is believed that they also have the same knowledge or little more of Islamic tenets, which is a pity.