Taliban ‘soften stance’ on women’s rights: Activists 


May 10, Kabul: The Afghan Taliban, condemned for their misogynistic ideology, were surprisingly open with female delegates who attended peace talks in Qatar, pledging support for women’s education and their right to work in “male-dominated professions”, an activists told AFP.

Women were brutally consigned to the shadows during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan, denied basic human rights and not allowed to leave their homes without a male chaperone.

But three women who were part of a 20-member Afghan delegation that held informal peace talks with insurgent representatives in Qatar last weekend said they were unanticipated receptive to their viewpoint.

According Khaleej Times, Heather Barr, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher on women’s rights in Asia, said in a statement “ Taliban participants reportedly pledged support for women’s education up to the university level and vowed to permit women to work outside the home, ‘even in male-dominated professions like engineering”.

“These are rights almost entirely banned under the pre-2001 Taliban government, which basically relegated women to their homes except when under male supervision.”

Former MP and women’s rights activist Malalai Shinwari, who attended the talks, also said the Taliban representatives voiced support for female lawmakers and for the right of women to choose their own spouse.

“They paid close attention when I told them ‘you made wearing the burqa compulsory, I used to see the World through small holes in the burqa, through a small window’,” Shinwari said this week.

It also remains unclear whether the Taliban members have the wider support of insurgent commanders who have waged a war against US-led forces for nearly 14 years.

Barr also weighed in with skepticism “The Taliban often says one thing and does another. During the long conflict with the Afghan government, the Taliban have often attacked girls’ schools and teachers, and threatened and killed women’s rights activists and women in public life. These attacks continue,” she said in her statement Reuters reported.

Shinwari was accompanied by two young Afghan women who serve as defense lawyers for Taliban detainees.

“I told the Taliban representatives: ‘You didn’t let these two women go to school, but after your regime ended, they completed university, and today they are lawyers defending the Taliban in government prisons’,” she said.                The Oslo Times


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