The Future for Women in Afghanistan Remains Uncertain
US President Joe Biden on 14 April announced plans to remove the remaining 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan after more than two decades in the war-torn country. Under the Taliban’s rule from 1996-2001, the rights of women were severely curtailed. Women were barred from education and work and could only leave the house with their bodies fully covered and then only with a male relative escort. It was a dark day for women. During the last 20 years, women have made great strides, returning to the classroom and to work, and even allowed to drive automobiles. Under the Taliban, “moral offenses” were punished by flogging and stoning.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Biden administration will work with Congress to provide nearly $300 million in civilian aide to the country. However, lawmakers, particularly women, have expressed concern that the Taliban will revive and rear its ugly head to roll back any gains women have made in the past 20 years. Lawmakers are concerned that Afghanistan may once again become a refuge for extremists. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen expressed concerned about whether women’s rights will be protected, saying that, “women in Afghanistan remain targets of violence.” She continued, “I will not support any efforts that will allow them to continue to commit these horrific acts without any accountability.”
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