By William J. Furney
Things are so dire in Afghanistan that people are being forced to sell parts of their bodies, to pay off debts and have enough cash to buy food. Accounts have begun to trickle out detailing Afghans accepting just a few thousands dollars for a kidney, leaving them with nothing after a short while except a scar down their side.
Since President Biden ordered US troops out of the battle-ravaged country last year, Afghanistan has been in an ever-decreasing spiral of hopelessness and despair, driven by Taliban rulers who said they would be more moderate this time but quickly reverted to their evil ways of the last time they ran the nation.
So it’s no surprise that most countries have not recognised Haibatullah Akhundzada and his atrocious regime that’s bent on introducing an even stricter — and harsher — blend of Islamic law, rules that even the faithful say are not exactly in line with the religion and its edicts.
Peculiarly, much of the Talian’s ire is directed not at crippling poverty, a crashed economy now devoid of buttressing international aid and a resurgent opium trade — but, astonishingly, at an innocent just under half the country’s population of almost 40 million: females.
The government — in power since August 2021 — vowed it would allow girls to continue in secondary education, only to swiftly row back on its promise and ban girls from second-level classrooms altogether. Now, in the latest female clampdown, young women are forbidden from attending university, both private and public. Education, according to the crazed Taliban, is only for males of the human species.
Female students protesting outside universities were met with armed guards, preventing them from entering, and water cannon, to get rid of them — a war scene with women battling for their innate right to education and a better life.
The reason for the ban was what Higher Education Minister Neda Mohammad Nadeem — a man who clearly shouldn’t be in the post — said was the students’ attire and choice of subjects.
“We told girls to have proper hijab but they didn’t and they wore dresses like they are going to a wedding ceremony,” he told state broadcaster RTA. “Girls were studying agriculture and engineering, but this didn’t match Afghan culture. Girls should learn, but not in areas that go against Islam and Afghan honour.”
The Taliban didn’t stop there. Days later, Afghan women were prevented from working for the many non-governmental organisations in the country — local and international groups whose humanitarian work is critical to helping desperate women and their families. The diktat sparked even more outrage, at home and abroad, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying it “will disrupt vital and life-saving assistance to millions. Women are central to humanitarian operations around the world. This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people”.
The shock move prompted several NGOs, including Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International, to suspend their operations in the country. “We cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff,” the three aid bodies said in a joint statement.
Amid global condemnation, and many wondering how the Taliban were going to provide food to the tens of millions in need — work the NGOs had been doing — administration spokesman Zabihullah Mujahidsaid it was their country and their rules.
“We do not allow anyone to talk rubbish or make threats regarding the decisions of our leaders under the title of humanitarian aid,” he tweeted, when humanitarian aid is the most pressing need of the country, and his administration certainly can’t provide.
Some say the misogynistic Taliban are afraid of women and want to make sure they know who’s the boss. Not only do they have to suffer the indignation of the prison that is the burka, women are also banned from parks and gyms — second-class non-citizens erased from public life.
The humanitarian disaster that is enveloping the country is almost certain to worsen, as women who are the sole breadwinners in the family must stay at home. Rather than helping their countrypeople — the fundamental function of any government — the Taliban are exacerbating an alarming situation in which nearly half the population don’t have enough food, according to a report earlier this year by the World Food Programme.
Derelict in their basic duty to their downtrodden people, Afghanistan’s non-leaders are responsible for the implosion of the economy and society, putting absurd principles ahead of rational policies that would be for the betterment of everyone. And with a crumbling healthcare system and continually stricken by natural disasters like devastating earthquakes and floods, the country can ill-afford to get by without the high level of international assistance it had been getting, before the Taliban took over amid a leadership vacuum when the US-led coalition left.
The international community’s selfless generosity has been betrayed by mad men’s insane war on women. And as protesting women have been shouting, “Education is our right” and “The Taliban are cowards.”
- Title photograph shows two unidentified women protesting against the Taliban’s university ban (image provided).