Two days before the Taliban marked the first anniversary of their takeover of Afghanistan, fighters from the hardline group beat female protesters and fired into the air on Saturday as they dispersed a demonstration in the capital, Kabul. Nearly 40 women marched and gathered in front of the education ministry building chanting “bread, work and freedom” before Taliban fighters dispersed them by firing into the air, according to the AFP news agency. Some women protesters who took refuge in nearby shops were chased and beaten by the fighters with rifle butts.
Some journalists covering the uproar – the first demonstration by women in several months – were also beaten by the fighters.
Also read | Women’s rights collapse under ‘depressing’ Taliban regime: Afghan feminists
The women demonstrators carried a banner that said – ‘August 15 is a black day’ – as they demanded rights to work and political participation. Zholia Parsi, one of the organizers of the demonstration, told AFP that Taliban fighters tore down their banners and also confiscated the mobile phones of many women. Protesters chanted: “Justice… we’re fed up with ignorance,” with many wearing no veils.
Also read | Taliban fighters trade weapons for books as hundreds return to school
Despite promising a softer version of its hardline regime during the 1990s, the Taliban have imposed several restrictions, particularly on women’s rights, since coming to power on August 15 last year. remain closed, while many women have been barred from returning to various government jobs.
Also read | Inside Afghanistan’s secret schools, where girls defy the Taliban
The Taliban have also banned women from traveling alone on long journeys and have only allowed them to visit public parks and gardens in Kabul on different days than men.
Also, in May, Afghanistan’s Supreme Leader and Taliban chief, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered women to cover themselves fully in public, including their faces.
The United Nations and other rights groups have consistently criticized the regime for imposing restrictions on women. In May, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, told reporters in Kabul that the Islamist group’s policies show a “pattern of absolute gender segregation and aim to make women are invisible in society”.
Not just women, Afghanistan has been drowning in poverty since the Taliban took over. The situation has escalated to new levels caused by drought and inflation since Russia’s offensive in its former Soviet neighbor Ukraine.