The Taliban says it is ‘committed to WOMEN’S RIGHTS’ during Afghanistan peace negotiations… while blaming equality campaigners for spreading ‘immorality and indecency’
- Taliban leaders and Afghan opposition figures held talks this week in Moscow
- Under former Taliban rule women could not work, go to school or go out alone
- Mohammed Abas Stanekzai said the Taliban would protect women’s freedoms
- But he denounced activists who he said encourage people to break tradition
The Taliban has said it is committed to protecting the ‘legitimate’ rights of women – but simultaneously attacked campaigners for promoting ‘immorality and indecency’ under the name of equality.
During talks with their Afghan opposition in Moscow this week, representatives of the insurgent group said they would ensure women’s freedoms in a way that violated ‘neither their legitimate rights… nor their human dignity’.
But almost in the same breath, the Taliban’s lead negotiator Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai criticized ‘so-called women’s rights activists’ who he said encouraged people to part with tradition and flout Afghan values.
Representatives of the Taliban including Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai (centre) attend the peace settlement talks in Moscow. Stanikzai said he would guarantee women’s rights but simultaneously denounced campaigners for spread ‘immorality and indecency’
‘Due to corruption, the expenses brought and spent under the title of women rights have gone to the pockets of those who raise slogans of women rights,’ he said.
‘Under the name of women rights, there has been work for immorality, indecency and circulation of non-Islamic culture.
‘Dissemination of western and non-Afghan and non-Islamic drama serials, paving the way for immoral crimes, and encouraging women for violating Afghan customs are other instances that have been imposed on Afghan society under the name of women rights.’
The talks between the Taliban and senior opposition figures were intended to pave the way for a peace in the war-ravished country – and included discussion on how and if the Taliban could become a serious political force in the future.
Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai (front row second from left) and others pray during ‘intra-Afghan’ talks in Moscow. Stanikzai slammed campaigners for encouraging a disregard for tradition ‘under the title of women rights’
But there is serious concern that a deal would see a roll-back of the fragile advancements in women’s rights achieved over the past two decades.
The Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001 with an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islamic law that saw women were banned from working and girls from school. They were only permitted to leave the house if accompanied by a male guardian.
But Stanikzai has said ‘women should not worry’ if a settlement was reached that granted the Taliban more influence.
In the eyes of the Taliban, women are highly-valued as the ‘builders of a Muslim society’, Stanikzai said.
Protesters including hundreds of women hold a picture of the Taliban’s Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai during a protest against his statement of dissolving the Afghan Army if he came to power. Stanikzai has said ‘women should not worry’ if a settlement was reached that granted the Taliban more influence
They would be granted rights in ‘business and ownership, inheritance, education, work, choosing one’s husband, security, health, and the right to a good life’, he added.
The 10-man delegation also demanded a new Afghan constitution that would see the end of the U.S. ‘occupation’.
The new law should be based on ‘Islam, national interests, historical achievements and social justice,’ and be free of western influence, Stanekzai said.
But women’s rights, though not consistently upheld, are guaranteed under the current constitution and many fear that they would be lost along the way to creating a new one.