Women were beaten by the Taliban for demanding their rights
“We want equal rights, we want women in government,” dozens of female protesters chanted as they marched down a street in Kabul on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the Taliban had announced their interim cabinet of ministers. There are no women in it, and they’ve also abolished the women’s affairs ministry.
“We cannot accept this, and that’s why we came out,” Sara (name changed) told the BBC. It was the second demonstration she was participating in over the past week.
“We were marching peacefully. Then I saw 4-5 vehicles with about 10 Taliban fighters in each of them, following us,” said Jia (name changed), another protester.
The women say they were stopped, lashed with whips, and beaten with batons that emit electric shocks.
“They struck my shoulder twice. I could feel pain all over my body. It still hurts and I can’t move my arm,” Jia said. “They also used a lot of bad words and abused us. It’s too shameful for me to repeat the names they called us.”
“We were all beaten. I was also hit. They told us to go home saying that’s where a woman’s place is,” said Sara. Her phone was knocked out of her hand by a Taliban fighter when she tried to film them stopping the protest.
Reporters covering demonstrations have also been attacked. And in the past few days, the Taliban appear to have got more brutal.
Etilaatroz, an Afghan news organisation that publishes a daily newspaper, said five of its journalists had been detained on Wednesday. Two of them were beaten so badly with cables, they needed to be treated in hospital.
Anelise Borges, a correspondent for Euronews, told the BBC that her Afghan colleague had been detained by the Taliban for more than three hours on Wednesday, when they went to ask them for permission to film a protest.
“He was slapped in the face multiple times. He’s stunned by it. His phone and wallet were confiscated,” she said.
The BBC also spoke to an Afghan journalist who was detained while filming a protest in Kabul on Tuesday.
“They detained many protesters and journalists. They took my phone, mic and other equipment. They hit me repeatedly, with their hands, and books. I told them I was a journalist but they wouldn’t listen. I saw them beating others with guns. They deleted all my videos,” he said. “The display photo on my phone was of a man and woman embracing each other. This really angered a Taliban commander who struck me hard across my face.”
Taking note of the attacks on protesters and journalists, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said “de facto authorities have obligations to safeguard the rights of all Afghans without violence.”
The Taliban have responded by effectively banning protests. They’ve said demonstrators must get permission from the Ministry of Justice, and then security services must be given information about the location and time of the protest and even the banners and slogans that will be used.