It has taken only three days to completely transform the lives of women in Kabul.
The mere act of stepping out of their homes has become an almost insurmountable challenge, they told The National.
Since the Taliban captured the Afghan capital on Sunday, many women in the country have retreated indoors, fearing the wrath of the fundamentalist group.
But many defiant women are stepping out of their homes as an act of rebellion. “We should not give up. Let us see who tries to stop us. How many women will they kill?” Female activist in Kabul
“We cannot let them imprison us again, we have to make a stand now,” said Maryam, a Kabul resident aged 24. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
The Taliban, who control the majority of Afghanistan, are known to repress women’s freedoms. During their regime in the 1990s and in areas they continued to control after 2001, they imposed strict rules limiting women’s presence in public spaces.
Women were not allowed to go to school or work. They were forbidden to leave homes without a male guardian and, even when they did go out, had to dress in a full hijab.
However, after the Taliban’s fall in 2001 at the hands of a US-led coalition, Afghan women were empowered and built a strong presence in social and political spheres.
“It has been like hell for me. I can’t get over the shock,” Maryam, a social activist and a vocal critic of the militant group, said of its return to power.
“I have worked in provinces where the Taliban had control in the past and had experienced to some degree how they treat women,” she said.
She added that she was recently in one of the northern provinces that fell to the Taliban last month.
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