On August 15, 2023, the Taliban government celebrated the second anniversary of its successful takeover in the capital city of Afghanistan, Kabul. This article will delve into the experiences of Afghan citizens since that pivotal day.
To provide context, the Taliban regained power after the withdrawal of U.S. Military and NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2021, concluding nearly two decades of conflict. Since assuming control of the entire country, the new regime has imposed its own regulations, predominantly characterized by strict restrictions, especially affecting women and girls.
How have Afghan women been affected by these new restrictions?
The resurgence of the Taliban in power signaled the beginning of inequality and human rights violations in the country. Particularly, women’s and girls’ rights came under significant threat as the new government imposed strict “rules” based on their interpretation of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. These new regulations prohibited women from pursuing education beyond the sixth grade. Since the Taliban regained power, approximately 1.1 million girls have been restricted from access to formal education.
By December 2022, women lost the opportunity of pursuing a higher education and 100,000 female students were no longer able to continue studies at universities. Currently, 80% of school-aged girls and young women are out of school and 30% have never attended a primary school. Furthermore, women are required to wear a “burqa” that covers the entire body from head to toe, including the face and hands.
Moreover, beyond a travel distance of 72 kilometers, women and girls are mandated to be accompanied by male relatives. Adding to the constraints, Afghan women are now deprived of access to beauty care, with all beauty salons closed under Taliban rule. Furthermore, the regime has barred women from engaging in diverse professions, including political participation and roles within NGOs and the United Nations. Consequently, these stringent measures have compelled numerous families to flee Afghanistan.
As reported by the UN Refugee Agency, over 1.6 million Afghans have fled their homeland since 2021. This exodus has contributed to a staggering total of 8.2 million Afghans seeking refuge in neighboring countries, such as Tajikistan, Iran, and Pakistan, constituting one of the most extensive and enduring refugee crises globally.
Interview with a Migrant: What Is the Experience Like for Afghan Migrants?
The author of this article conducted a firsthand interview with an Afghan migrant who, along with his family, fled Afghanistan just before the Islamist government gained control. They now reside in Tajikistan. He explained that their immigration to Tajikistan was personal and no organizations helped them in their journey. They left the country after getting their visas approved and started a new life without fear and apprehension in Tajikistan.
This interview provides authentic insights into the challenges faced by individuals directly affected by the recent developments in the region.
Here is what he what he had to share:
“After the Taliban regained power, the situation in Afghanistan from my point of view, as a member of the civilian population of Afghanistan, has been one of fear, uncertainty, and a loss of basic rights and freedom.
Under the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, Afghanistan experienced a repressive regime characterized by strict interpretations of Islamic law, curtailment of civil liberties, and human rights abuses. Many Afghans including my family remember this period and fear a return to similar conditions.”
Additionally, he says that things started to get worse and worse after the US Military and NATO forces withdrew and the Taliban were slowly getting close to the capital- Kabul:
“The need for action became apparent as it became evident that they were not going to slow down, and with the situation worsening, we felt compelled to take steps for our safety. That’s how our immigration to Tajikistan took shape.”
He also added that the Taliban’s return to power is a nightmare for him. He adds that many people have spent years working towards progress and forging a new Afghanistan, but after the return of the Taliban their hopes shattered and dreams crushed. According to him, things are getting worse in Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s new restrictions are making people’s lives more difficult.
He concluded the interview by adding that the situation is dynamic and the future trajectory of Afghanistan is uncertain. “The Taliban has indicated that they aim to form an inclusive government and provide security and stability, however, the extent to which they will uphold human rights, allow political pluralism, and engage with the international community remains to be seen.’’
In conclusion, the aspirations of numerous Afghan civilians center around a vision for a future marked by peace, prosperity, enhanced security, economic opportunities, improved access to education and healthcare, and the unfettered exercise of their rights and freedoms within Afghanistan.