Multiple news outlets reported heartening news today from Afghanistan, most of them using identical headlines: “Taliban vow to respect women’s rights”. After seeing the same words in eight or ten different places, I searched to find the details of the Taliban’s promise. I had my suspicions about what they really meant, and it turns out I was right [italics added]:
Taliban Vow to Honor Women’s Rights But Within Islamic Law
Kabul, Afghanistan — A Taliban spokesman promised Tuesday that the insurgents who overran Afghanistan in recent days would respect women’s rights and would not exact revenge, seeking to calm a wary population and skeptical world powers.
In his first news conference, Zabihullah Mujahid, who had been a shadowy figure for years, doubled down on the Taliban’s efforts to convince the world that it has changed from the group that imposed a brutal rule on the country in the 1990s.
Mujahid promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights, but within the norms of Islamic law. He said the group wanted private media to “remain independent,” but stressed journalists “should not work against national values.” And he promised the insurgents would secure Afghanistan — but seek no revenge against those who worked with the former government or with foreign governments or forces.
“We assure you that nobody will go to their doors to ask why they helped,” he said.
Following a blitz across Afghanistan that saw many cities fall to the insurgents without a fight, the Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they last ruled. Earlier, Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, promised amnesty and encouraged women to join the government.
Samangani addressed the concerns of women, saying they were “the main victims of the more than 40 years of crisis in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan’s female footballers make tearful calls for help “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values,” he said.
So what does Islamic law say about women? Well, for starters, their testimony in a court of law is worth half that of a man’s. And if they are raped, there must be four male witnesses to the crime, otherwise they will be charged with adultery. If they leave their homes, they must be accompanied by a male relative at all times. They must also cover themselves from head to toe. (The burka is popular in Afghanistan, although the niqab — which allows the eyes to be visible — is also permitted, if I am not mistaken.)
You get the general idea. That’s what “women’s rights” means under the Taliban.