July 23, 2024
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Afghan women stage rare, private protests on International Women’s Day

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Small groups of Afghan women on Friday staged rare demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day in private spaces, after a crackdown by Taliban authorities forced activists off the streets.

Since surging back to power in August 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed a strict interpretation of Islam, with women bearing the brunt of curbs the United Nations has labelled “gender apartheid”.

Women have been squeezed from public life, barred from travelling without a male relative and banned from certain jobs, secondary school and university as well as parks, fairs and gyms.

A handful of women in several provinces gathered to demand restrictions be lifted, according to activists from the Purple Saturdays group which protests Taliban curbs on women.

In northern Takhar province, images circulated by activists showed seven women holding papers obscuring their faces, reading “Rights, Justice, Freedom”.

No public protest

In Balkh province, several women also held up signs saying “Don’t give the Taliban a chance” in front of a banner reading, “Save Afghanistan Women”.

There were no reports of women’s protests in public spaces by Friday afternoon.

The UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, on Friday urged the Taliban to lift restrictions on women and girls, saying not doing so risked “further pushing the country into deeper poverty and isolation”.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said a recent report by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan highlighting restrictions on women and girls was “propaganda”.

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