What future awaits Afghan women? “We have no idea what’s going to happen to us”

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Shortly after Amine’s 12th birthday, she had to get engaged to her adult cousin and move into her uncle’s house. At that time, the calendars indicated the year 2001. Amine’s home country, Afghanistan, was under Taliban rule, and her uncle was a businessman who traded with the Taliban.

However, Amine’s life changed a few months later when the Taliban lost power with the US invasion of Afghanistan. Encouraged by the change of power, Amine runs away from the house of her uncle, who became head of the family after the death of her father, takes off her burqa and throws it away. With the support of her mother, she went to court and called off the engagement with her cousin. He went to school and started working in the field of human rights. She decided not to get married and tried to enjoy social life.

Amine, who gave a telephone interview to the Financial Times, said the Taliban’s return to power terrified her and said in tears:

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“My sisters, my mother and I took all our papers and left our house to take refuge with a friend. We fear my uncle is the first man to knock on our door. I threw away my burqa 20 years ago and I will. I will no longer accept this humiliation. I will not accept forced marriage with anyone either.

Ferzane Kochai is one of Afghanistan’s women parliamentarians.


Amine is just one of the Afghans who thinks and feels this. With the surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban a few weeks after the withdrawal of NATO and United States forces, both the Afghans who risked their death to leave the country as quickly as possible, and international opinion, is worry about going back 20 years. since.

In fact, Taliban officials have frequently stated in their recent statements that their views on many issues have changed and that a softer and more moderate administrative approach will be taken. However, many people, especially women, are not convinced by these explanations. What they have experienced in the past becomes their future; They fear that their rights such as having a good education, participating in business life, being a member of parliament, driving a car and participating in sports competitions will again be lost.

Indeed, some television series, including Turkish and Indian productions, have already been canceled. Photographs of women on the windows of places such as hairdressers, tailors and beauty salons were uploaded or painted. Two images of CNN reporter Clarissa Ward, taken a day apart, have become the world’s diary.

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What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.


So what was Afghanistan like during the Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001?

Let’s start with the very beginning, namely the name … In the period 1996-2001, the name of the country was the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Indeed, members of the Taliban, who took control of the capital Kabul and took the post of president on Sunday evening, announced that this name would be returned as soon as possible.

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During the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, those in control were a small group of Mujahedin who fought against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. This group, which met during the country’s civil war in the 1990s, promised a management approach that would strictly enforce Sharia law.

The emirate was created in 1996, shortly after the Taliban entered Kabul. In September of the same year, Taliban militants tortured former President Najibullah to death and hung his body from a traffic pole.

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Within a month, the ministry of Emr-i bil Maruf was created and the morals police established within this ministry began to work in the streets. Men were forced to grow beards and women to wear burqas that completely covered their faces.

Girls’ schools have been closed. Girls, like Amine, began to be forced into marriage at a young age. It has been announced that women who go out on the streets without being accompanied by a man can be punished with beatings. Music and football are prohibited. Kabul’s largest stadium has evolved from a sports stadium to a place where executions are held in public.

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What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.

1,500-year-old Buddha statue destroyed in 20 days


Taking pictures was technically prohibited, but some images taken during this time are still remembered today. The images of the executions in the stadium are part of it. And the 1500 year old destroyed Buddha statues in Bamyan and the flood of tents formed by hundreds of thousands of displaced people… Gulam Said, who lives in one of the camps on the banks of the Penjshir River and has spoken in New York Times in 1999 said, “What are we going to do? Our child is dying, ”he said.

The Taliban regime, on the other hand, was striving to increase its legitimacy on the international stage. Mullah Mohammad Omar, one of the leaders of the Taliban, who tried to send a member to the United Nations General Assembly, sent a letter to American representatives in October 1996, writing: “The Taliban attach great importance to in the United States, appreciate their help in jihad against the Soviets and cooperate with the United States. He wants to establish good relations.

What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.


The Emirate had a modern state structure in the bureaucratic sense. However, everyone from government departments to the managing director of the central bank were former mujahedin commanders who had received an education in madrasa.

The international community was also uncertain of its position on relations with the Taliban government. It was avoided to give legitimacy to the Taliban. However, the living conditions in the country also revealed a very great need for international support.

This is why in 1998, United Nations envoy Lahdar Ibrahimi and Mullah Mohammed Omar met to discuss opening up Afghanistan to humanitarian access.

According to the Washington Post, Ibrahimi later spoke of the meeting: “We had a very sincere dialogue for three hours. But we sat on the floor the whole time.


However, diplomatic initiatives weakened as the scale of human rights violations in the country emerged. Mullah Omar has not left Kandahar, communicating mainly through a messenger. Villages were set on fire, especially the Shiite minority. Steve Coll, in an article he wrote for The New Yorker in 2012, said of Mullah Ömer: “While he was making and explaining his decisions, he would sometimes talk about his dreams.

The fragmented social structure that facilitated the Taliban’s rise to power was another factor that made administration difficult. Felix Kuehn included the following lines in his article titled “The Taliban’s History of War and Peace in Afghanistan”:

“The problems the Taliban face in trying to establish a functioning government and state are the same problems faced by many previous governments seeking power: both maintaining authority over an overly independent population and establishing a monopoly. violence within the country’s sovereign borders. “

What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.


When Mullah Omar’s house in Kandahar was destroyed by a bomb attack, financial support for the construction of his new palace came from Osama bin Laden. In 1998, Bin Laden was giving interviews to international media from his tent camp in southern Afghanistan.

As the pointer turned to bin Laden in the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the Clinton administration launched a missile attack on Afghanistan. The following year, sanctions against the Taliban regime were introduced.

In 2000, the Taliban, in need of foreign aid, repealed a fatwa prohibiting women from working in international aid organizations. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Taliban government quickly lost power.

What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.


The Taliban, which eventually turned into a rebel force, continued to oppose the US-backed Afghan government with its “shadow governors”. However, in recent years, as the Taliban’s return to power has become inevitable, many analysts have started to wonder what the new Taliban regime will look like.

Thomas Ruttig, US Military Academy Counterterrorism Center, commented: “In the post-2001 period, the Taliban has proven to be a learning political organization that is more open to the effects of external factors. .

In the article titled “Taliban Views on a Future State” written by Borhan Osman and Anand Gopal in 2016, “Many Taliban leaders have spent more than 10 years in Pakistan and the Gulf.” They broadened their horizons and went beyond what they have learned. when they were raised in southern Afghanistan.

What future awaits Afghan women? We have no idea what's going to happen to us.

“We have no idea what’s going to happen to us”

However, as we said at the start, those horizons don’t mean much to the Afghans who saw Taliban militants take to the streets of Kabul on Sunday. This can be understood from the influx of Hamid Karzai Airport and the photographs of 640 people in an American cargo plane.

“What we are seeing these days shows us that the ideology and the policies of the Taliban have not changed, but they have learned to act and to deceive the world,” a female surgeon from Herat told the Financial Times.

The surgeon, who fled to Iran with his family at the age of 2 due to the civil war and returned to Afghanistan with the hope of a better life after 2001, said: “I have studied for 25 years and now I will be run by people with no education. If I am allowed to go to work, I am sure to wear a burqa. “I will have to endure it, and I cannot endure it any longer. The world and the United States have betrayed us,” he said.

An academic, who went on strike at a university in Kabul and spoke to the Financial Times, said she and her colleagues were in great uncertainty because of security concerns and summed up the situation with these words: “ We have no idea what’s going to happen to us. “

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