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Taliban violently break up protests by rare women in Kabul

#Taliban #violently #break #protests #rare #women #Kabul

Taliban fighters beat protesters and shot in the air on Saturday as they violently broke up a rare rally in the Afghan capital days before the first anniversary of the hardliners’ return to power.

Since the Taliban took control on August 15 last year, they have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan.

About 40 women – chanting “bread, jobs and freedom” – marched in front of the Education Ministry building in Kabul before militants dispersed them by firing their guns in the air, an AFP correspondent reported.

Some women protesters, who fled to nearby shops, were pursued and beaten with their rifle butts by Taliban fighters.

The protesters carried a banner that read “August 15 is a black day” as they demanded rights to work and political participation.

“Justice, justice. We’re fed up with ignorance,” they chanted, many not wearing a face veil.

“Unfortunately, the Taliban came from the secret service and shot in the air,” said Zholia Parsi, one of the organizers of the march.

“They scattered the girls, tore up our banners and confiscated many of the girls’ cellphones.”

But protester Munisa Mubariz promised to keep fighting for women’s rights.

“If the Taliban want to silence that voice, it’s not possible. We will protest from our homes,” she said.

Some journalists covering the demonstration – the first women’s rally in months – were also beaten by Taliban fighters, an AFP correspondent saw.

– “Make women invisible” –

While the Taliban authorities have permitted and even encouraged some anti-US rallies, they have refused to allow any women’s rallies since returning to power.

After the Taliban took control last year, they promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that marked their first term from 1996-2001.

But many restrictions have already been imposed, particularly on women, to conform to the movement’s strict vision of Islam.

Tens of thousands of girls have been barred from secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.

Women have also been banned from traveling alone on long journeys, and public gardens and parks in the capital can only be visited on days away from men.

In May, the country’s supreme leader and head of the Taliban, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered women to cover themselves fully, including their face, in public – preferably with an all-encompassing burqa.

Since the school ban was announced in March, many secret schools for these girls have sprung up in several provinces.

The United Nations and human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Taliban government for imposing restrictions on women.

This policy shows a “pattern of absolute gender segregation and aims to make women invisible in society,” Richard Bennett, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul during a visit in May.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on the Taliban to reverse “their appalling and misogynist” decision to deny women access to education.

“This would send a message that the Taliban are ready to reconsider their most outrageous actions,” Fereshta Abbasi, the human rights group’s Afghanistan researcher, said in a statement.

Some Afghan women initially crowded the curbs and held small protests.

But the Taliban soon rounded up the ringleaders and held them incommunicado while they denied being arrested.

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#Taliban #violently #break #protests #rare #women #Kabul

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