While the World Watches Ukraine, the Taliban Turns Back the Clock

Dr. E.C. Beuck

View of the old city of Kabul, AfghanistanOxam Hertog on Wikimedia Commons

While the Taliban government initially promised a general amnesty for Afghan's linked to the former government and international forces, as well as tolerance and inclusiveness towards ethnic minorities and women, it was not long before they began cracking down on the rights of their citizens to bring them in line with their interpretation of Sharia law. Human rights groups quickly compared these new rules a "chilling echo of the draconian strictures that were placed on women's activities during the first Taliban era".

With much international attention fixed on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Taliban have continued to press forward with imposing new government policies that chip away at the previous freedoms of its Afghan citizens. Examples of these new restrictions include:

1. Restrictions on women traveling: New rules by the Taliban government prevent women from flying solo. Instead they need to be accompanied by a male relative. This builds upon the previous ban of women traveling more than 45 miles without a male chaperone.

2. Restrictions on education for girls: Girls have been banned from attending school beyond the sixth grade. Protests, such as one near the Taliban's Ministry of Education in Kabul on March 27th, have occurred with demands that girls be allowed to attend classes again.

3. Restrictions on men's grooming: The Taliban government has instructed all employees of the government to wear a beard and adhere to a dress code. If government employees do not follow these rules, they risk being fired.

4. Restrictions on international media: International media broadcasts, such as Voice of America, the Pashto and Persian BBC services and Deutsche Welle, have been pulled off the air. Similarly, foreign drama series were also pulled.

5. Restrictions on public parks: Another recent government order segregates all parks in Afghanistan based on sex. According to the rule, women would be allowed to attend the park three days of the week, while men would be allowed the other four days. A consequence of this is that families will no longer be allowed to visit parks together.

With these latest measures the leadership of the Taliban seems to be continuing its efforts to return to the laws and policies of the first regime that reigned from 1996 until the US invasion in 2001. Though the international community has had strong reactions against these actions, such as the United States cancelling a meeting with the Taliban in Doha and the UN Secretary-General urged for schools to be opened to all students, it remains to be seen if the Taliban regime will backtrack on any of these new policies.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC

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