Precisely Because They're Women
How Women Will Be Oppressed Under A Resurgent Taliban In Afghanistan
Shortly after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan ended in the early 1990s women largely enjoyed autonomy, treated as equals and had independence. They were educated, some going on to earn advanced degrees and were free to pursue careers.
Then in 1996 the Taliban swept into power and with their ascendancy repressive, draconian rules in accordance with Sharia Islamic law were imposed on the whole of Afghan society. While everyone suffered under the Taliban, it was the women of Afghanistan who bore the brunt of it all.
Marginalized, dehumanized, and brutalized by the Taliban women were systematically stripped of their rights and status. They no longer enjoyed any basic freedoms guaranteed to men in their country, no longer allowed access to an education, no longer allowed to freely associate with anyone outside of their immediate families, no longer allowed to move about in Afghan society unless accompanied by a male chaperone and forced to cover themselves head to toe with a burqa so as not to be looked upon by other men.
Failure to cover themselves, indeed failing to follow any of the strict edicts laid down by the Taliban were considered crimes punishable by death. In some horrible instances, acid was thrown in the faces of women who defiantly refused to cover themselves leaving them scarred and disfigured for life.
If a woman was sexually assaulted (i.e. raped) in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, it was her fault and not the fault of her attacker. She must have done something to make this man rape her. Since virginity is prized and respected in Afghan society a woman who has been sexually assaulted may find herself badnaam, or dishonored, and any avenue to marriage is closed off to her as no man or his family will ever have her.
Even if a woman who was sexually assaulted and the assault ends in pregnancy the rapist is under no obligation to marry her as she is now forever impure even though the victim is often pressured to marry her rapist and refusal to marry often ends in an honor killing.
If a woman is raped she is then dishonored and, by extension, her family is so dishonored and the only way for honor to be restored is for the woman to die, killed by members of her own family.
Such was life under the Taliban. It was always, always a woman at fault.
Last month, as the Taliban were making their way across Afghanistan taking towns in provinces in advance of the withdrawal of US Forces in the country, there were ominous signs that the Taliban - having made promises to uphold equal rights for the women of Afghanistan - were going back on their word.
In Kandahar, armed members of a local Taliban militia walked into the offices of Azizi Bank and escorted nine women working at the bank out of the building telling them to go home and don’t come back and that their former jobs were now to be filled by male relatives.
Two days after the Kandahar incident a similar scene had played out in the city of Herat where, once again, armed members of the local Taliban militia entered the offices of Bank Milli where women working at the branch were admonished for not covering their faces and, just like Azizi Bank, women were escorted out of the building and told to go home, don’t come back and your former jobs are now going to be filled by male relatives.
Afghan women working in fields including journalism, healthcare and law enforcement have been killed in a wave of attacks since peace talks began last year between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government. The government blames most targeted killings on the Taliban, who deny carrying out assassinations.
These women are being targeted by the Taliban precisely because they are women and not because of any nebulous gender identity or any “feelings” one may have perceiving themselves to be a woman.
The phrase “transwomen are women” is not only untrue, it’s insultingly untrue as it insults the memory of women throughout all of recorded human history who have suffered and died at the hands of male oppression. Transwomen have not now nor will they ever experience this level of violent oppression on their persons as they are not now nor will they ever be women.
Everyone knows what a woman is. They’re generally the ones who are trafficked for sexual purposes, raped, murdered, repressed on the basis of their sex and when this happens to transwomen - indeed, any transwoman - it will be the day we accept transwomen to be women.
One wonders if or when Afghanistan will take the same progressive stance as Pakistan and Iran has taken when it gives anyone they perceive as guilty of homosexuality the choice to either trans or die.