Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Concerns Grow over Women’s Rights and Liberties

With the likely return of the Taliban militants, after reaching a peace agreement with their US interlocutors and the Afghan government, and potential for radicalism, concerns over the violation of women’s rights and liberties increase. It appears that the Taliban are not willing to change their mindset towards women.
The Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that the Taliban’s view towards women had not changed. “We accept all the rights that God has granted to women.” It indicates that the Taliban still seek to impose their radical interpretation of the Islamic Sharia on people. Religious terminology from the Taliban’s lens is hardly reconcilable with democratic principles. And with the return of the Taliban’s fundamental figures and clerics, the rights and liberties of women will be at stake.
The potential for radicalism in the country will contribute to the Taliban’s misogynistic worldview. Recently, Mawlavi Mujibur Rahman, a religious cleric in Herat province, made provocative comments regarding women. He has reportedly established a center for “Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”, which was also prevalent during the Taliban regime, and held a press conference to defend his view and banned the participation of female journalists in the conference. Although his comments were criticized by MPs, local officials, and youths, it shows a potential for radicalism in the country.
Afghanistan has constitution, which entails the rights and freedoms of women. All individuals, without exception, have to practice upon the provisions of law and stop interfering in people’s private issues through establishing center for Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
It is believed that Afghans will accept peace talks in the frame of national law and constitution and the Taliban’s fundamental mindset is not acceptable to them at all. If the Taliban are genuine in the peace talks, they have to respect the “red line” of Afghan nation and state, which includes the rights and liberties of women, constitutional principles, and democratic values.
Since the US and Taliban group are close to reaching a deal, according to the Taliban officials, the group should not overstep its demands. In other words, if the Taliban bargain over higher prices at the negotiating table with the Afghan government, after reaching a deal with the US side, the talks will reach a cul-de-sac. The Taliban should understand the vulnerability and fragility of the talks in the current sensitive juncture.
It should be noted that the Afghan government will support the public red line and the constitutional principles. I pointed out in my commentaries that Afghan Constitution is based on the Islamic values and endorsed by Afghan religious clerics. In short, Afghan elders, clergy, Jihadi leaders, and officials participated in the approval of the constitution. Meanwhile, it is based on Afghan social norms and cultural values, as it gave legal bases to Afghans tribal assembly, Loya Jirga. Moreover, the constitution during former Afghan King Zahir Shah also contributed much to the approval of the post-Taliban constitution.
Gender discrimination, simply for physical and biological differences, is neither legal nor logical. Women are allowed on the basis of both religious tenets and constitutional principles to engage in social, political, cultural, and economic activities the same as their male counterparts. Restricting women’s activities in the community on the grounds of their sex will not be only injustice but also create major roadblocks before the country’s social, economic, and political development.
Afghans will support the peace talks which lead to the integration of the Taliban members in the government, disbanding of the group, disarming its fighters, and safeguarding Afghanistan’s democratic gains.
The Taliban still hold out their radical mindset since they are not ready for bringing their women to the negotiating table. If the Taliban have moderated their mindset, as they once claimed, they should provide seats for their women at the table to have their say.
Besides supporting the public demands and women’s constitutional rights and liberties, the government should undermine the potential for radicalism and treat them on the basis of law. Radical figures should not be allowed to issue fatwa contrary to the constitution or moderate mindset or establish a center beyond the law.
Meanwhile, the country’s religious clerics and Ulema Council have to raise their voice about irresponsible comments of their religious counterparts and highlight religious tenets to the public through moderate prism.
Since Afghan people, mainly women, suffered severely in the result of radical fatwas of religious figures throughout the history and are still the victim of radical practices of the Taliban fighters, they support moderate ideas.