As the Afghan politicians preparing to hold the second round of face-to-face talks with Taliban in Doha, Qatar, concerns are rising among many ordinary Afghans, particularly women, against whom many restricted rules were imposed by the Taliban when the group was in power in Afghanistan nearly two decades ago.
Women’s rights activists on Sunday reiterated the call on the Afghan politicians to bring the protection of civil liberties and human rights as the red lines while talking peace with the Taliban.
Suffered by decades of war and violence, the Afghan women are now hoping that the peace talks between the Taliban and other parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan should not compromise on the achievements the country has made in its strides towards democracy the and rule of law.
The activists said the role of Afghan women should be visible in the peace talks and they are not interested to see the return of an Islamic emirate of the Taliban.
Muzhgan Sadat, an Afghan woman who on the demand of her family dressed as a male and named as Suhrab to work for her family when the Taliban regime was in power in Afghanistan, said she left school and her family changed their living place in order to keep her gender a secret.
She said that during those days when the Taliban were forcing people to go to the mosques for praying, she stood among the worshippers besides her father, but when a Taliban fighter became suspicious, she escaped from inside the mosque.
Sadat spent four years in the male getup.
“It is painful to imagine returning to those days,” she said.
“I advise the families, if those days returned, they should stay at home. I advise the girls not to come out of their homes and do not dress in male outfits, because in that case, one forgets herself. For four years, you desire to put nail color or you want to comb your hair, you want to wear the dress other girls wear, but when you cannot do all that, you take all your desires to grave,” she explained.
Muzhgan works in the Administrative Office of the President has a bachelor’s degree in economics. She also writes poetry and stories.
Sahra Karimi, a filmmaker, who completed her education while she was abroad as a refugee, said women in Afghanistan will never allow the return of the Taliban’s emirate.
“I totally disagree with bringing a change in the system, because we passed through a long journey towards democracy. Today, democracy at some extent has been institutionalized and we offered major sacrifices for it,” said Karimi.
“Suppose if women attend the (Qatar) meeting, one of the red lines will be on the nature of the system which should be established in Afghanistan,” said Shah Fareed, a university lecturer. “The women want the present system and the Constitution to prevail because they foresee their interests in it. The women will not have any problem with the return of the Taliban if they endorse the Constitution.”
The woman activists said Taliban leaders are reportedly demanding changes to the Constitution of Afghanistan which also involves women’s rights and other civil liberties and the establishment of a Taliban-style governance system which is not acceptable.
This comes at a time that Afghan political elites have pledged in the past that they will not compromise on women’s rights.
Last month, a group of Afghan politicians attended three-day talks with some senior members of the Taliban in Moscow where they outlined a nine-point approach to promote “intra-Afghan” dialogue aimed at finding a political settlement to the conflict in the country.
The delegates unanimously agreed to hold the next round of talks in Qatar.
The Afghan government did not participate due to the persistent refusal by the Taliban to engage in dialogue with government.
Earlier this month, at least 700 women from around the country attended women’s national conference on peace in Kabul and released a 15-article declaration which reflects their stance on the peace.
A ceasefire between the warring parties, making a sustainable peace, preserving the achievements of the past 18 years, enforcing the law against strongmen, fighting corruption and supporting the Afghan armed forces were part of the declaration.
The declaration calls on the warring parties to immediately announce a ceasefire and continue peace talks.