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Human Rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights[1]

–  Hillary Clinton

The overthrowing the Afghan government and occupying Kabul and imposition of Taliban rule has led to a conundrum in Afghanistan as well as in the world order. It casts a blot on the issue whether Afghanistan would ever see the light of the day and gain independence in true sense from the harrowing Taliban regime. While recently, the Taliban celebrated complete independence after the withdrawal of the American troops and establishment of Taliban regime, the question that strikes is that, have the citizens of Afghanistan really secured emancipation in real sense? The bone of contention that emerges is that after the failure of the Afghan government to retain its power and the permanent pullout of the American troops from the country, what would be the future course of the people residing in Afghanistan and particularly, the women and girls. There are various governmental and non-governmental organisations which are working towards safeguarding the women and girls from the discrimination and protection of rights.[2]

In August 2021, the world witnessed the Taliban forces uprooting the Afghan government and establishing their rule by taking Kabul in its garb along with rest of the places.[3] They went about in the city of Kabul in their jeeps firing in the open air to celebrate their rule. It was increasingly difficult for the people to even step out of their houses let alone do anything by their choice. Pictures and videos had flooded the social media which brought to the notice of the world the heart-wrenching conditions with which the people were thriving in Afghanistan. There was a lot of chaos that occurred at the international airport where the foreigners residing in Afghanistan and even a large number of citizens were desperately trying to get inside the plane and leave Afghanistan out of desperation to not be ruled by the Taliban forces. The people by any means and ways just wanted to leave the country. The video of falling off of the people from the airplane sent chills down the spine of anyone who watched it. September 9, 2021 marked the two-decade milestone of the horrifying incident of the 9/11 bombings that occurred at the World Trade Centre in the United States in 2001.[4] On that very day, the Taliban forces hoisted their black-and-white flag over the presidential palace to commemorate their rule in Afghanistan.

The history of ostracization of women and girls in Afghanistan goes far back in the history. Post September 1996, after establishing their reign over Kabul, the Taliban forces imposed a kind of gender apartheid which was never witnessed anywhere in the world before that. They repressed women and girls in the ways the world could not have even anticipated. By terming these repressions as customs which need to be followed without flinching, the Taliban forces treated the women and girls as some sort of commodity. They banned girls and women from going to educational institutions to study and were kept secluded from the public life. They were completely forbidden from going out to work and were not allowed to leave their houses without a male guardian. If any woman was found to be behaving not in a “proper” way, they were beaten by the Taliban forces. These incidents portray the deep pain and agony that the Afghan women and girls had to go through and the extremely appalling conditions that they persisted in. When some of these women were interviewed, they replied by stating that they do not consider themselves as a human any longer. By going with the UNICEF reports of 2001, a large population of children in Afghanistan were malnourished and women died during childbirth.[5]

 In addition to this, the women and girls in Afghanistan have been bearing the repercussions and have to bear the excessive compulsions and restrictions imposed on them by the Taliban forces. The journalists who were found sharing the condition of the Afghan women were lashed out badly and had to face the dire circumstances. In the status quo, various sources tried to connect to the women in Afghanistan and asked them about their current situation. All of them had just one reply: to upend the Taliban rule and seize their authority to rule. They were told to confine themselves to their respective houses due to “security reasons”. Although the Taliban forces have assured that the women and girls would be provided with their basic rights but it is far from reality. Women sportspersons have been forbidden from playing and there are violent practices adopted by the Taliban forces to prevent the women from protesting for the unjust practices.

After establishing their complete rule over Afghanistan, the Taliban issued the statement that the women would be able to access their rights but “only in compliance with the Shariah Law”. This leaves the people with dubious guesses due the reason that the Shariah Law is subject to wavering interpretation. The Shariah Law in essence provides with the list of some particular crimes such as theft, adultery etc.[6] It also provides with the moral and spiritual guidance and when to profess and practice the prayers. It nowhere prohibits the women from going to work or forbids them to leave the house without a mail guardian. But the Taliban authorities misconstrued the Law in an altogether different manner which led to the women and girls leading a miserable life.


The entire world is glued scrupulously to know whether in the current scenario, unlike the last time from 1996-2001, the Taliban would be willing to change its practices of governing and ensure equal rights of women and girls in all spheres. They imposed ban on the basic lifestyle things like dresses, education, and movement. The end of the thumb of a woman was cut off solely because she was wearing nail polish. It can therefore be concluded that it is still a perilous situation for the women residing in Afghanistan. The international human rights treaties prohibit the discrimination of women from discrimination of any sort. In these harrowing times, the international bodies like Unites Nations must step forward and take the required steps in order to maintain peace and ensure that the rights of the women do not get infringed.

Author(s) Name: Ishita Khandelwal (National Law University, Odisha)


[1] Sam Jones, ‘Transcript: Hear Hillary Clinton’s Women’s Rights Are Human Rights’ (Museum of Fine Arts Boston) <> accessed 12 September 2021

[2] David Miliband, ‘Afghanistan crises: Ways to Help’ (International Rescue Committee, 1 September 2021) <> accessed 12 September 2021

[3] AP, ‘Last troops exit Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war’ (The Hindu, 31 August 2021) <> accessed on 13 September 2021

[4] M.K.Bhadrakumar, ‘The Taliban Hoist Flag on Presidential Palace on 9/11, Talks on Govt Formation Continue’ (The Citizen, 12 September 2021) <> accessed on 15 September 2021

[5] Laura Bush, We are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope (first published in 2017, Scribner)

[6] Daniel Victor, ‘What is Shariah law, and what does it mean for Afghan women under the Taliban?’ (NY Times, 19 August 2021) <> accessed on 13 September 2021

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