Taliban Militants Use Tear Gas, Fire Warning Shots As Women In Kabul Demand Equal Rights
By RFE/RL September 04, 2021
Taliban militants used tear gas and fired warning gunshots into the air as dozens of women held a protest in central Kabul on September 4 to demand equal rights.
At least one woman suffered injuries in what was the second such demonstration in Kabul in as many days.
Video shared on social media showed a woman with blood trickling from a wound to her head.
Afghan women have held protests for the past two days in Taliban-controlled Kabul, advocating for women's rights and demanding equality, justice, and democracy. A similar rally was held earlier this week in the western city of Herat.
On September 4, the activists staged a protest close to the Afghan presidential palace and held banners reading, "We are not women of the '90s."
Footage shared on social media showed over a dozen Afghan women being confronted by armed Taliban militants, triggering heated exchanges. Women could been seen coughing, indicating tear gas had been fired. Other women said they had been beaten.
The militant group claims that it will respect women's rights according to their interpretation of Islamic teachings.
A senior Taliban leader, Sher Mohammad Abbass Stanekzai, told the BBC on August 31 that he did not think women would be appointed to senior posts in their government but said they would have a role.
The Taliban has said women will be able to continue their education and work outside the home, which was denied to them when the militants were last in power, but the Taliban has also vowed to impose Shari'a, or Islamic, law.
Meanwhile, a BBC correspondent reported coming across a beauty salon whose owner said he had been ordered to paint over the women's faces displayed on its shop front.
Two female Afghan filmmakers, meanwhile, pleaded with the international community not to forget the Afghan people and to support its artists, warning that a country without culture will eventually lose its identity.
Sahraa Karimi, the first female president of the Afghan Film Organization, and documentary filmmaker Sahra Mani spoke at a special panel discussion organized by the Venice Film Festival on September 4.
Karimi cited numerous Afghan films that were in pre- and postproduction, filmmaking workshops that had been organized, and insurance policies negotiated for equipment.
But Karimi said all of that has been lost, and that Afghanistan's burgeoning filmmaking community has either fled or gone into hiding, with its archives now under Taliban control.
"Imagine a country without artists, a country without filmmakers. How can they defend its identity?" Karimi asked.
Mani said that she and her colleagues had remained in Afghanistan until the Taliban takeover -- despite the daily security risks, widespread corruption, and everyday hassles like electricity rationing and Internet outages, because they wanted to take part in rebuilding their country and restarting its cultural life.
"We were optimists," she said. But with the Taliban takeover, "it means we don't have anything to fight for. We lost everything."
With reporting by dpa and AP
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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