We talk a lot about progress as women. To some of us, that looks like equal pay. To others, it’s being able to wear whatever we want, wherever we want and know that we’ll still be handed the same respect as a privileged caucasian man.
Although these worlds are fictional for many, they put a lot into perspective. One woman’s idea of progress is a pipe dream to another, who just got told she can no longer go to amusement parks, gyms or funfairs simply because of her gender.
A reality for some, a reality check for others.
This week, Afghan women were banned from going to multiple public spaces under the Taliban’s directive.
Initially, access to public parks, funfairs and gyms was gender-segregated. The ban came after these segregation rules were ‘violated’, as Reuters quoted Mohammad Akif Sadew Mohajir, Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in saying.
Mohajir went on to justify the decision by claiming there had been “mixing (of men and women) and “hijab was not observed.”
Pushback was on its way. Some protested that the Taliban had spread fake news that the different genders were exercising together in light of the gym restriction. One woman who spoke to AlJazeera said that women wanted to protest the gym bans in their entirety, but they were arrested before they even got the chance.
Others said that the parks and funfairs crackdown didn’t make economic sense. Even the money aspect wasn’t enough to shake the decision (yet).
The growing list of anti-freedoms
The latest bans only add to the ever-growing list of freedom restrictions for women in Afghanistan. Women are blocked from various levels of education already, made to be escorted everywhere, and face dire repercussions for incorrect dress.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan said that the initial restrictions had the de facto power straining relationships with the international community. This meant cuts toward development aid and sanctions. In terms of humanitarian crisis, Afghanistan has surpassed most other high-alert countries.
But international resolutions haven’t knocked the Taliban yet as the latest restrictions proved.
Of these, the United Nations General Assembly has told the Taliban authorities to reverse the restrictive policies.
“To say to a 12-year-old girl, ‘Your brother can go to school. You can’t go to school.’ How can we accept that?” Canadian envoy Bob Rae asked global leaders.
But will another resolution be loud enough?
What comes next?
“Our minds are tired,” another anonymous woman shared with AFP. “There are no schools, no work…we should at least have a place to have fun.”
The news comes just a few months after an Iranian woman’s dress-code-induced death had the world up in arms. Mahsa Amini lost her life after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for an ‘improper’ hjab.
Now, women around the world are asking ‘what’s next?’ A question that could be answered either way. As hopeful (if progress comes about) or as disappointing in another crackdown – if there’s anything left to crackdown on.
Feature Image: Pexels