Writer: Manizha Bakhtari
The Taliban, with their latest order regarding the strict compulsory hijab, has once again shown that they are unaware of the trade between modern human beings and unable to consciously understand the nature of human existence in the universe. Human beings have equal rights regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, and these rights automatically require equal responsibilities and obligations towards the law, society, and institutions. After thousands of years of life experience and knowledge accumulation in various fields, human beings have moved away from primitive and instinctive understanding and have established human relations and interactions based on wisdom, civilization, and citizenship rights. Equality, justice, and freedom are the main essences of human life today; Without these essences, life becomes devoid of value, morality, and rationality.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile, a group of mentally retarded and ignorant of the cosmos and illiterate in understanding the world and human relations have gained power through fear, suicide attacks, targeted killings, and the killing of innocent people, considering themselves as owners of the lives and property of the people. This group confiscates all the freedoms of the people and interferes with their private lives, insulting their human dignity and conscience.
The cruelty of the Taliban, especially against women, has no bounds. In addition to failing to form an independent, accountable, and responsible government that meets the basic needs of the people for the past nine months, the Taliban are intensifying social, political, and educational restrictions on women every day. Girls’ education has been brutally confiscated in the last nine months.
The girls are waiting for the schools to be reopened, but it seems that the Taliban’s will for misogyny and anti-knowledge, and torture is not over. Education is one of the most basic and obvious human rights, so in most of the Universal Declarations and Conventions, there is no explicit article on this subject. Instead, they are mentioning different types of education, work, and payment which refer to education. This is an undeniable principle that education and knowledge and social status bring income and independence, instead, the lack of access to education destroys the possibility of empowerment and independence of women and leads to an unbalanced distribution of power. Most Afghan women, who in the past, especially in the last twenty years, have gained achievements by training and learning business knowledge, income, social status, and politics, lost them overnight and now face a bleak and frightening future.
According to the Taliban’s illusory view, unreasonable male power and domination, suppressing women in the social and economic spheres and turning them into ignorant, illiterate, and unprofitable human beings, provide the ground for more possession in the private sphere.
Conscious and structural misogyny, discrimination, and gender apartheid are the mainstays of Taliban politics. In the last nine months, most of the Taliban decrees have issued orders on how to educate, socialize, and women’s clothing. A reading of the text of the Taliban’s new decree illustrates well the policy of domination over women, explaining that the Taliban consider women as objects and limit them with the obligatory hijab. For them, the discourse of women’s freedom and ownership of the body is unknown, and it is easy to challenge this discourse in a religious society with the tools of religious teachings and extremist readings of religion.
The Taliban, with their extremist religious ideology, see women as bodies created to please men. In addition to the Taliban’s conception of religion, religiosity in Afghanistan has always driven women away from society, politics, and economics.
It is a shame that this attitude is not specific to the Taliban, but that many Afghans feel masculinity and pride in this futile period of captivity.
This kind of view is the denial of female wisdom and refusal to accept women as human beings equal to men, and reduces women to an object of bargaining, legitimizing the exploitation of women in the form of sexual slavery and domestic slavery. Socially, it makes it possible for men to have sex with more women, preferably younger, and to satisfy their social and sexual complexities with stoning, physical and psychological violence, and indescribable insults and humiliation of women.
Coverage is an evolutionary-cultural phenomenon based on the struggle for survival. Humans covered their bodies to survive and fight against nature and geography to protect themselves from the heat and cold and the harms of nature. Later, civilization and luxury gave rise to all kinds of clothing. Gender-based clothing is still a product of changing civilization and culture, as in many ancient civilizations there was no significant disparity in the type of clothing worn by men and women.
Change and transformation of clothing, like other evolutionary-cultural phenomena, occur as a result of growth, development, and climate change, and religious ideology and religiosity can not stop it. In other words, the idea of clothing inevitably changes with economic and cultural changes, different aesthetic criteria of generations, and changing human tastes. For example, the cumbersome garments of the Western aristocracy eventually gave way to light and efficient clothing that both hindered human free movement and was more accessible.
On the other hand, religious teachings are also cultural phenomena. Religious authorities have interfered in the private lives of the people by issuing orders and decrees, including requiring their followers to wear a certain type of cover, or, as a recommendation, have considered the selection of a type of cover to be in the interest of society. At the same time, human freedom in choosing to clothe is the most important feature of a democratic and open society, and no clothing should lead to the captivity and subjugation of humanity and become a tool for exploitation.
The struggle for freedom, equality, and cultural expression have a long and deep history in Afghanistan. In this land, women, and girls, in the heat and cold, have inevitably had to wear the harsh cover favored by the patriarchal system and the traditional thinking of society. After Shah Amanullah’s failed attempt to remove the hijab and educate girls, Dawood Khan achieved this important task during his tenure as Prime Minister, and in the celebration of the Queen’s independence in 1959, a large number of women belonging to the court, elites and later several capable Attention of women in Kabul and some cities avoided strict hijab like a burqa.
From that day until now, the struggle and political and social activism to remove the hijab and the freedom to choose the covering have been a deep, meaningful and at the same time difficult and breathtaking discourse. After the arrival of the Mojahedin in 1992, urban and middle-class women were forced to unwittingly give up their hard-earned rights, privileges, and achievements in the name of peace and Islam by wearing burqas and veils and covering their entire bodies.
In the first round of Taliban rule, urban women were not only barred from work and education but were forced to submit to a primitive and abnormal cover that conceals the independent identity of each individual. Now, in the second round of this terrorist group’s rule, contrary to the lobbying and alignment of the Taliban and the simple-minded people who believed in the false theory of the Taliban change, the Taliban have imposed a strict hijab and covered the face. Disobeying this law is a crime, and even worse they made difficult conditions for women’s presence in society.
Hijab has never protected women in the world or Afghanistan, and women have continued to be victims of rape, trafficking, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and other social and sexual violence.
In the past nine months, Afghanistan’s urban women have not only lost their right to study, work and earn a living but have been marginalized by increasingly cumbersome regulations and denied their presence in social and economic life. It is while, women’s activism, questioning, peaceful demonstrations, and civil protests have been severely repressed by the Taliban, and there are no laws to protect women. Punishing male members of the family, on the other hand, is another local ploy of the decree that undoubtedly leads to domestic violence.
Continuation of this situation increases the possibility of forced and underage marriages, extremists become the owners of second, third, and multiple wives, and block the way for women to question and act. The issue of coercion and subjugation of women can certainly not be limited to the last nine months. For the past twenty years, women have continued to be subjected to customary and domestic violence, in most cases, despite access to equality and equality enshrined in the Constitution and some sub-laws and the activities of women’s rights and equality organizations, and in particular the international community, they did not have formal justice.
Urban women were in constant conflict with the traditional thinking of society and were taunted every day for education and work. Illiterate women and members of traditional families have endured especially double suffering, and despite strict hijabs such as the burqa, nothing has diminished their suffering or increased their dignity. Whether wearing a burqa or other kinds of hijab, they have faced the same lack of immunity and have experienced the same types of sexual violence and verbal and psychological harassment everywhere.
The bottom line is that the hijab, of any kind, has never diminished masculinity, hegemony, and male domination, and has not diminished the primitive anger and militant view of the male tribe toward women.
Translated by: Ali Rezaei