KABUL, Afghanistan — On a uncooked January morning, Khujasta Elham trudged by means of a snowstorm to signal her title on a authorities register.
Before the Taliban seized energy in August, Ms. Elham was director of ladies’s applications for Afghanistan’s Civil Service Commission. But she and most different feminine authorities employees have been prevented from returning to work by the Taliban’s new Islamic Emirate.
Now Ms. Elham, who says she has not been paid since August, is required to register at her outdated job web site as soon as a month — a fiction that enables the Taliban to disclaim that they’ve fired feminine authorities employees. The grim routine additionally diminishes any hope for Ms. Elham that she’s going to sooner or later return to work.
The dismissal of feminine employees is one in all many indignities which have prompted small bands of ladies like Ms. Elham to take to the streets in protest, risking beatings or arrest. Taliban gunmen have pointed weapons on the demonstrators, sprayed them with pepper spray and known as them “whores” and “puppets of the West,” Human Rights Watch mentioned. Bearing placards and elevating their fists, the ladies have resisted persistent makes an attempt to erase them from public life.
The protests not often final for lengthy. Taliban enforcers have roughed up girls, overwhelmed them and sprayed them with chemical irritants, activists say. Ms. Elham and others say they’ve acquired threatening telephone calls from intelligence officers, warning them to remain silent or face unspecified “consequences.”
“He asked me if I knew they had prisons for people like me,” Ms. Elham mentioned of a Taliban intelligence officer who ordered her to finish the demonstrations she has helped to arrange.
As the Taliban proceed to demand humanitarian assist and diplomatic recognition, the United States and different nations and worldwide our bodies have insisted that Afghanistan’s new rulers roll again their limits on girls’s rights. The subject is a principal level of debate this week as Taliban delegates have begun assembly with worldwide officers in Oslo, Norway.
Among probably the most dramatic penalties of the Taliban takeover has been the swift reversal of positive aspects made by girls for twenty years following the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the earlier Taliban authorities in 2001. Women attended colleges and universities and served in Parliament and authorities. They served within the military, the police drive and as legal professionals and judges.
Women as soon as made up not less than 1 / 4 of the federal government work drive. But the Taliban have allowed solely a handful of feminine medical employees and educators to retain their authorities jobs.
Most Afghan ladies above the sixth grade haven’t attended faculty since August. In September, the Taliban transformed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs constructing into places of work for the non secular morality police. Last month, the Taliban banned girls from taking lengthy journeys and not using a male family member and from utilizing public transport and not using a hijab, a kind of head scarf.
The Taliban have additionally focused activists protesting the restrictions. To keep away from arrest, Ms. Elham and different demonstrators say they rotate amongst protected homes and talk solely by encrypted telephone apps.
Rokhshana Rezai, 27, a distinguished activist, mentioned she as soon as dressed as a person to cross by means of Taliban checkpoints after receiving threatening calls from Taliban officers. But she has continued to attend protests. Video from one latest demonstration exhibits her defiantly pulling away from a Talib who had grabbed her arm and tried to pull her away.
“We are getting more afraid,” Ms. Rezai mentioned. “They are not going to respect our rights and dignity.”
Taliban officers have mentioned that prior approval was required to carry a protest. But when the ladies have requested permission, Ms. Rezai mentioned, “They don’t allow it, and they never will.”
On Jan. 19, three days after girls protested the hijab directive, two activists have been taken at gunpoint from properties in Kabul, mentioned Zarifa Yaqoobi, 28, a pacesetter of a gaggle known as the Afghan Powerful Women’s Movement. Ms. Yaqoobi mentioned the ladies’s relations informed her the ladies have been taken away at evening by armed males.
Ms. Yaqoobi mentioned relations recognized the activists as Tamana Zaryab Paryani and Parwana Ebrahim Khel. She mentioned three of Ms. Paryani’s sisters additionally disappeared. The New York Times tried to talk to the households straight with out success.
A video posted on social media exhibits Ms. Paryani screaming for assist and shouting that the Taliban have been pounding on her door. The Taliban have publicly denied any involvement within the detainment of Ms. Paryani and others.
Qari Saeed Khosty, a Ministry of Interior spokesman, mentioned that Ms. Paryani’s video had been fabricated “to create a case” supposed to draw worldwide consideration.
“They are liars, and I don’t want to talk about it,” mentioned Gen. Mubeen Khan, a police spokesman in Kabul, mentioned of media reviews concerning the disappearances. In a follow-up name, he informed The Times: “Anyone who disrupts the public must be arrested. An order has gone to all security forces to arrest them and bring them to justice
The crackdown on women’s demonstrations in Afghanistan has raised concerns among human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch said it represented “an alarming and unlawful escalation of efforts to suppress peaceful protest and free speech in Afghanistan.” The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has known as on the Taliban to provide information concerning the lacking girls.
Women’s rights activists and human rights teams have additionally known as on the Taliban to supply details about the disappearance of Alia Azizi, a jail official within the western metropolis of Herat. Ms. Azizi by no means returned house from work on Oct. 2.
Heather Barr, affiliate director of ladies’s rights at Human Rights Watch, mentioned “the extremely muted response” from the worldwide neighborhood coupled with the crackdowns on the Afghan information media had emboldened the Taliban.
“This is a sign that the Taliban feel these protests now need to be entirely stopped, whatever level of brutality that takes,” she mentioned.
The disappearance of the 2 feminine activists was raised by an activist from Afghanistan at a convention that opened in Oslo on Sunday among the many Taliban, and representatives from the United States and European nations, The Associated Press reported.
For the Taliban, the convention presents a platform to current their new Islamic Emirate as much less oppressive than the Taliban authorities of the Nineteen Nineties. For the United States and European nations, the assembly supplies a chance to confront Taliban leaders face-to-face to demand improved human rights, an inclusive authorities, girls’s rights and different reforms.
Afghans crucial of the convention have protested outdoors the overseas ministry in Oslo, saying the Taliban shouldn’t be awarded a world platform.
On Jan. 23, Monisa Mubariz, co-founder of the Afghan Powerful Women’s Movement, and Ms. Yaqoobi held a quick, clandestine information convention in a personal house inside a walled compound. They requested the small group of journalists who attended to not livestream the occasion for concern of alerting the Taliban.
Under the Taliban, Ms. Mubariz informed the journalists, “Women have been deprived of the right to work and to participate and political and economic life. They are consistently repressed, punished illegally, insulted and humiliated.”
Such public criticism solely heightened the chance of Taliban reprisals, Ms. Yaqoobi acknowledged. “That’s why we have to operate in secret,” she mentioned. “But we will never stop raising our voices.”
Days earlier than the information convention, Ms. Mubariz spoke in a espresso store’s household part, put aside for girls to maintain them separated from males. Before the Taliban takeover, a number of espresso outlets in Kabul allowed girls to take a seat and socialize with males — a quiet image of progress that has slowly eroded underneath the Taliban.
Ms. Mubariz mentioned her mother and father and associates have begged her to stop her protests — or not less than to put on physique armor to guard herself. She wiped away tears as she described the overwhelming sense of loss she felt since shedding her job and watching girls’s rights being stripped away.
“Whatever goals, freedoms, wishes, dreams, choices, education and jobs women once had are gone,” she mentioned. “I am feeling angry — my body is without a soul and all our dreams are nothing now.”