Afghan women fear Taliban return

When the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, women were subjected to particularly brutal repression.

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2012, 00:39 AM IST

Kabul: As tentative steps are made towards
peace talks between the US and Taliban insurgents, Afghan
women are worried about a possible return of the hardline
Islamists to the capital Kabul.

When the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, when
they were overthrown by a US-led invasion, women were
subjected to particularly brutal repression.

They were whipped in the street by the thugs of the
religious police if they wore anything other than the
all-enveloping blue or white burqa.

Girls were not allowed to go to school and women were not
allowed to work.

Fear reigned in the capital, with women accused of
adultery among those regularly executed in public at a sports
stadium after Friday prayers.

Now, with the Taliban preparing to open an office in the
Gulf state of Qatar ahead of possible negotiations with
Washington, Afghan women want their voices heard.

"We fear the Taliban return to power," said Shukria
Barakzai, a legislator from Kabul in the lower house of
parliament. "There should be no deal between the Afghan
government and the Taliban."

Barakzai said she objected to the US-backed idea of a
Taliban office in Qatar, saying any talks should be held
within Afghanistan and women should have a place at the
negotiating table.

"We are also part of this land and they cannot ignore
us," she said. "Today is not Afghanistan of 1996, this is
2012 Afghanistan."

PTI