Chanting “Bread, work, freedom,” some two dozen women took to the streets of the Afghan capital of Kabul on May 29 to protest against the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on their rights.
The Taliban has rolled back women’s rights since returning to power in August 2021. Girls have been banned from school beyond the sixth grade in most of Afghanistan. In March, the Taliban ordered girls’ high schools closed on the morning they were scheduled to open.
“Education is my right! Reopen schools!” chanted the protesters, many of them wearing face-covering veils, as they gathered in front of the Education Ministry.
Demonstrators marched for a few hundred meters before ending the rally as authorities deployed Taliban fighters in plainclothes, an AFP correspondent reported.
“We wanted to read out a declaration, but the Taliban didn’t allow it,” said protester Zholia Parsi.
“They took the mobile phones off some girls and also prevented us from taking photos or videos of our protest,” she told the French news agency.
Since taking power in the wake of the withdrawal of international troops from the war-torn country, the Taliban has pledged to rule differently than during its brutal regime of the 1990s that saw women confined to their homes, most entertainment banned, and punishments including stoning and public executions.
But its promises are being treated with skepticism by many Afghans and governments around the world, especially since women have been forced from some government jobs and barred from traveling alone.
This month, Afghanistan’s supreme leader and Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada ordered women to cover up fully in public, including their faces.