Aaj TV

Twitter reacts to Taliban leader asking women health officials to resume work

Updated 28 Aug, 2021
Taliban forces block the roads around the airport, while a woman passes by in Kabul. Reuters
Taliban forces block the roads around the airport, while a woman passes by in Kabul. Reuters

Despite claims by the Taliban about upholding women's rights in Afghanistan in accordance to Islam, women have been cautious in their movements. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen's tweet on Friday, on behalf of leader Zabihullah Mujahid, night telling women in the Health Ministry to resume work in the capital and provinces is one example of the trepidation the announcement was met with.

In his interview to CBS News on Thursday, Shaheen said women were returning to schools, universities and their jobs and would be required to cover their hair, not faces.

When asked about universities being closed for women in Herat or news about women being turned away from their jobs at banks in Kandahar, he replied: "I don't know about Herat… I told you about the policy. The policy has not changed… They should follow the policy."

"Afghanistan, after the Taliban takeover, is a waiting game," wrote Jen Kirby in Vox on Tuesday. "And for Afghan women, the waiting game is agonizing."

The Taliban's regime in the late 1990s and 2000s was especially brutal for women in Afghanistan. Girls were not allowed to go to schools; women could not hold jobs or leave their homes without a male relative.

When the US invaded Afghanistan, it said it wanted to secure rights for women. However, 20 years later as they planned to withdraw US President Joe Biden said his country's objective was to root out terrorism. “The idea that we’re able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational,” he said last week.

This time Taliban says things will be different in Afghanistan.

But women especially are not convinced. Nor are the thousands who are desperately trying to get themselves evacuated on planes or are escaping to neighboring countries.

Popular TV presenter Shabnam Dawran's video on August 18 about being told to go home when she reported to work is an example of the alarm bells that have rung louder than the Taliban's media interviews to the world.

Afghan women have been speaking out about their concerns.

But it's not just the Taliban that is seen as a deterrent to their rights.

So it's understandable that Shaheen's tweet asking women to return to work in the health ministry is being met with skepticism.

As one user pointed out, what about stories of the Taliban themselves asking women to stay home?

If the Taliban wants the world to believe they are not the same group that ruled 20 years ago, they may be well advised to know Afghan women aren't the same either.