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Afghan Women: From Suits to Wearing Burqas

“You can see the changes,” an Afghan woman who remains in the country told reporters


It has only been one month since the Taliban retook Kabul without firing a single shot. After a two-decade war that ended on August 31 with the last US flight leaving Kabul’s airport, the regime is now back in power.

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After making early promises of a more inclusive government, the Taliban have reverted to the brutal regime that ruled the country prior to the American invasion in 2001 in some ways.

Journalists have been beaten. The outgoing government’s ambassador to the United Nations has expressed concern about human rights violations in the final province under Taliban control.

On Saturday, September 11, 2021, Afghan women walk past a closed beauty salon in Kabul, Afghanistan. Several images depicting women outside beauty salons have been removed or covered up since the Taliban took control of Kabul.

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As the international community mobilizes aid for Afghanistan, Afghans find themselves living in a country that has already changed dramatically and is likely to change even more.

“What we’re seeing contradicts what they’re saying,” the woman said of the Taliban.

Her changing country is reflected in the mirror as she prepares to leave for a trip to the grocery store. She now wears a borrowed black burqa that covers all but her face, after years of wearing suits with light jackets, a pop of color in a blouse, and a headscarf draped over her shoulders and under her chin

Even that, she said, was too much. She claimed that a Taliban fighter flashed a gun at her when he told her that only her eyes could be seen.

“If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, they start beating you,” she explained.

Afghan Distress

Life in recently Taliban-ruled communities has been quickly and sharply upended as the extremist group reimposes strict conventions on the population. The immediate aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power has been a breakdown in government and economic stability, which threatens to throw the country into chaos.

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Many of the social and economic gains made by cities like Kabul over the last two decades have been reversed in a matter of weeks. The country is in the grip of an economic crisis that, if not addressed, threatens widespread famine and social collapse.

Imports account for a sizable portion of the economy of this landlocked country. Foreign aid accounts for roughly 40% of the economy


According to a United Nations report, Afghanistan, where nearly two-thirds of the population already lives in poverty, is on the verge of universal poverty and economic collapse in the coming year. According to the study, the country’s economy will contract by 3.6 percent to 13.2 percent in the coming fiscal year.

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The United Nations announced Monday that it has raised more than $1.2 billion to assist 11 million Afghans as famine threatens the country.

The new Taliban government is unable to access approximately $9 billion in frozen foreign currency reserves, while international assistance from the United States and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank has ceased.

Meanwhile, many Afghans are forced to wait days in line at banks to access accounts, and the amount of cash they can withdraw is limited.

Even in the face of a cash crunch, prices have continued to rise. According to Afghans who spoke to reporters, grocery prices have doubled and medicine is difficult to come by.

The combination of rising prices and inability to obtain money has made meeting even the most basic needs difficult.

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According to the woman who is still in Afghanistan, the Taliban have made it impossible for women to work. Afghans, she claims, are selling their possessions – rugs, curtains, and dishes – at steep discounts in order to save money for food.

“This is just like a jail, a big square meter jail, but no one comes in and no one comes out,” an Afghan man who remains in the country told reporters.

Women are now subject to new restrictions.

Women’s lives have been drastically altered as a result of the Taliban’s new rule. Women are once again required to have male escorts in public in Kabul, which was a vibrant and diverse metropolis just this summer.

The Taliban have reintroduced gender divisions in public life, particularly in education, where many women fear being barred from attending any form of education and relegated to a reclusive life.

Afghan women interviewed by reporters expressed concern about the new reality.

According to Asila Wardak, an Afghan women’s rights activist involved with the Every Woman Treaty, fear and panic have spread.

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Women generally pass through checkpoints outside of Kabul without being searched or acknowledged, she said, but men who appear out of the ordinary are stopped. According to her, the country’s land borders continue to attract crowds of people attempting to flee.

Wardak, like other women, has begun wearing a larger scarf to comply with the Taliban.

“I, for one, am unable to go to work. I avoid going to public places. I don’t go to see any of my friends. “I stay away from crowded places,” she explained.

She now only leaves her house to go grocery shopping and wonders if she will ever return to her job as a professional diplomat. To avoid going out, she survived for several days by eating boiled chickpeas. While Wardak has maintained a social media presence, she believes activism has become more dangerous.

“We had the legal right to go to work. We had the right to express ourselves. We had the right to walk down the street alone. We were free to wear whatever we wanted. We had the right to have fun. We had a good time. “We had a good time,” said another woman who is still in Afghanistan to reporters. “There is no longer any hope.”

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