The Taliban banned forced marriage in Afghanistan on December 3, declaring “both (women and men) should be equal.” Many have applauded the ban but are unconvinced it will be implemented effectively. Meanwhile, Afghan women’s rights advocates and international organizations condemn the continued oppression of women and girls under Taliban rule.
Will this tactful ban actually be enforced?
Last Friday’s decree stated that “no one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure.” It added that “the Islamic Emirate’s leadership directs all relevant organisations… to take serious action to enforce Women’s Rights.”
But the ban has been met with some scepticism. Vice reports:
Afghan women’s rights advocates have hailed the move as a major step forward for the country – assuming the pledges set out by Akhundzada are actually implemented in practice.
“This is big, this is huge … if it is done as it is supposed to be, this is the first time they have come up with a decree like this,” Mahbouba Seraj, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Center, told a Reuters Next conference panel on Friday. “Now what we have to do as the women of this country is we should make sure this actually takes place and gets implemented.”
The decree is a tactful move for a government that is facing mounting global pressure to meaningfully recognise women’s and human rights. Since seizing control of Afghanistan in mid-August, the Taliban has had billions of dollars worth of funds frozen by the international community, who have thus far refused to formally recognise the group as the country’s legitimate rulers.
Afghan women continue to face systematic exclusion
As well as questioning the practicalities of implementing this ban, experts have drawn attention to other ways in which women continue to be oppressed in Afghanistan. For example, Seraj pointed to the current exclusion of women and girls from schools and workplaces across the country.
In September, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban’s minister of higher education, announced that women would not be allowed to attend university with men in Afghanistan, and would have to wear “Islamic hijab” during classes. Fears are also rising that girls may be indefinitely excluded from schools.
Moreover, just three days after the Taliban’s announcement, Amnesty International published a report saying that support services were no longer available for people facing gender-based violence in Afghanistan. “Women and girl survivors of gender-based violence have essentially been abandoned in Afghanistan,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International Secretary-General.
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