Taliban declares ‘decree on women’s rights’

Dec 3, 2021, 1:32 PM | Updated: 1:39 pm

FILE: Displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp ...

FILE: Displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp on August 10, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. People displaced by the Taliban advancing are flooding into the Kabul capital to escape the Taliban takeover of their provinces. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

(Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

    (CNN) — The Taliban released a so-called “decree on women’s rights” on Friday that failed to mention access to education or work and was immediately panned by Afghan women and experts, who said it was proof that the militant group was uninterested in upholding basic freedoms for millions of Afghan women who have largely been constrained to their homes in recent months.

The decree, which sets out the rules governing marriage and property for women, states that women should not be forced into marriage and that widows have a share in their husbands property. “A woman is not a property, but a noble and free human being; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for peace…or to end animosity,” said the Taliban decree, released by spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

The Taliban have been placed under immense pressure to support the rights of women by the international community, which has mostly frozen funds for Afghanistan since the group seized control of the country. Instead, in their four months of rule, the Taliban’s leaders have imposed limits on girls’ education and banned women from certain workplaces, stripping away rights they had fought tirelessly for over the last two decades.

Afghan women interviewed by CNN on Friday said that the decree would do little to change their lives, adding that the rights detailed by the Taliban were already enshrined under Islamic law. The Taliban’s leaders promised that women would have rights “within the bounds of Islamic law” when they swept to power, but it’s been unclear what that would mean or how it would differ from the strict interpretation of the law imposed by the group from 1996 to 2001, when women were banned from leaving the home without a male guardian and girls were blocked from school.


‘They only want women to stay home’


“[The decree] has no connection with our right to go to school, university or participate in government. We don’t see any hope for our future if it goes on like this,” said Muzhda, a 20-year-old university student in the capital Kabul, who asked that her surname not be used. “We were not feeling comfortable since the the Taliban took control and we won’t feel comfortable after this decree … if they don’t bring changes to their rules for the women’s rights we will prefer to stay inside.”

“They only want women to stay home and prevent them from going out for school, university or work, but they want to appeal to international community,” she added.

The timing of the edict comes as Afghanistan plunges deeper into an economic crisis and amid warnings of a looming famine. But it is unlikely that the statement will go far enough to assuage international concerns that Afghan women are currently unable to work and go to school, or even access public spaces outside the home.

“It’s been becoming more and more clear to the Taliban over the last three and a half months that women’s rights, particularly girls education, is a really serious barrier to achieving some things that they want from the international community — recognition, legitimacy, funding, unfreezing of assets,” Heather Barr, the associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, told CNN.

The Taliban’s leaders have presented a more moderate face of the group to the world in recent months, pledging to allow primary education and some secondary education for girls, but rights advocates are unconvinced their views have changed. According to Barr, “their views are pretty intact compared to ’96 to 2001, about what the role of women and girls should be. And so, in that context, this looks like a statement that costs them nothing.”

“It gives you a sense of how the Taliban see women’s roles in society,” Barr added. “It feels a bit insulting, honestly, at a moment when millions of girls are being denied access to education.”


A worsening crisis


Barr noted that, in practical terms, the Taliban has no way to uphold women’s rights after having abolished all the mechanisms to do so. Since sweeping to power, the Taliban has abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a key body in promoting women’s rights through Afghan laws. They’ve also rolled back the Elimination of Violence against Women Law, signed in 2009 to protect women from abuses — including forced marriage, leaving them without recourse to justice, according to the UN.

“Enforcement of this decree in most parts of the country is impossible, only the Taliban can implement it in the capital and some parts of the country, but most parts are having their own custom, which they won’t accept this decree,” Fariha Sediqi, 62, a former school teacher in Kabul, told CNN.

Even though marriage under the age of 15 is illegal nationwide, it has been commonly practiced for years, especially in more rural parts of Afghanistan. And the situation has deteriorated since the August takeover, as families became more desperate in the face of a worsening economic crisis.

Zahra Joya, an Afghan journalist who fled the Taliban, but is continuing to run her own women’s news agency, Rukhshana Media, from London, England, where she is seeking asylum, said that the decree was meaningless.

“The Taliban said women are humans. Everyone knows women are humans. They say women are free. But how? It is the 21st century and all Afghan women need to have their freedoms — educational rights, working rights. And unfortunately, the Taliban they’ve limited women’s life in the 100 days they’ve been in power,” Joya said.

Joya, who grew up under the Taliban in the ’90s and lived as a boy in order to flout the group’s education ban and attend school, left Afghanistan to continue her work. She has a network of female journalists across the country who are reporting on women’s issues, like rise in forced marriage amid the economic, in secret.

“Right now, the majority of Afghan people don’t have enough food for eating. The Taliban don’t have any solution for solving the economic situation in Afghanistan, and yet they’re still trying to limit women,” she added.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

President Joe Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on December...

Kevin Liptak, CNN

Biden to host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at White House Tuesday

President Joe Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House Tuesday as discussions on a Ukraine aid deal remain stalled in Congress.

4 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump attends his civil fraud trial on Dec. 7, in New York City.
(David Dee...

Jeremy Herb and Kara Scannell, CNN

Trump says he’s not testifying in his civil fraud trial Monday

Former President Donald Trump wrote on his social media platform Sunday that he is no longer planning to testify in his civil fraud trial in New York on Monday.

7 hours ago


Chandler Watkins, CNN

Over 50 pounds of fentanyl seized in largest fentanyl bust by Oregon sheriff’s office

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said a months-long investigation ended in several arrests and resulted in one of the largest fentanyl seizures in state history and the largest in agency history.

8 hours ago

Amber Gardner looks at the debris from a friend's destroyed house in the West Creek Farms neighborh...

Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press

Tennessee residents clean up after severe weekend storms killed 6 people and damaged neighborhoods

Central Tennessee residents and emergency workers cleaned up Sunday from severe weekend storms and tornadoes that killed six people and sent dozens more to the hospital while damaging buildings, turning over vehicles and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

8 hours ago

This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the Spotify app on an iPad in Baltimore. Spotify’s chief fi...

Mary Culbertson

Spotify CFO announces departure from company days after third round of layoffs

Spotify’s chief financial officer, Paul Vogel, is leaving next year, the music streaming service said — just days after the company announced its third round of layoffs for 2023.

10 hours ago

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on December 10. (CNN)...

By Jack Forrest and Sam Fossum, CNN

Blinken calls sexual violence inflicted by Hamas ‘beyond anything I’ve seen’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken forcefully condemned Hamas for sexual violence during the Oct. 7 attacks, and criticized those who were not quick enough to do the same.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Taliban declares ‘decree on women’s rights’