Canadians watching the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban say they are skeptical of the group’s claims that women’s rights will be respected under Islamic law.

Looking back to the Taliban’s tenure in the 1990s, they worry that regime change will bring back a world in which girls cannot attend school, women cannot work, and many are subjected to rape. and forced marriages.

“We are very concerned about the possibility of serious human rights violations, many of which will be suffered by women and girls,” said Sarah Keeler, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

Keeler said her organization’s Canadian staff are in contact with women they have worked with in Afghanistan, as well as those who have benefited from their efforts in the country; The group raises funds to support teachers and for educational materials, among other things.

The organization has received reports of members of the Taliban going to homes in Kabul to collect information on residents, while extrajudicial executions have been reported in smaller provinces, he said.

While some prominent Afghan women have spoken out about their fears of being targeted, Keeler said any woman in the country could be at risk.

“We are talking about any mother who sends her daughter to university, women who spoke out against the Taliban in any kind of public forum … those who worked for any kind of civil society or public sector organizations,” he said . “It is a wide swath of society that is now at risk.”

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Shahrzad Mojab, a University of Toronto professor who specializes in threats to women’s rights and education, said the progress of feminism in Afghanistan remains limited.

“There was a lot of funding provided by mostly white liberal feminists for four different women’s NGOs over the past 20 years,” she said. “Afghan women have managed to take advantage of these funding programs, but the best analysis of what is happening is that young Afghan women are both outraged by the corrupt Western-backed government of Afghanistan and fearful of a future under the Taliban.”

Mojab said she is not convinced of the Taliban’s latest reform promises for women, arguing that there is no place for women’s rights under Sharia law.

“Nothing should be framed within the rule of Sharia in the country. And no matter the supposed amnesty promised by the Taliban, this is not going to happen,” he said. “Sharia law, in itself, is authoritarian, dictatorial and exclusive. And it is a game against the rights and well-being of women.”

‘Waiting to see what her true colors are:’ Concerns for #women in #Afghanistan. # Taliban

Saddia Rahmanyar, a 23-year-old Toronto resident whose parents fled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, said her extended family in the country has heard claims from the Taliban about a more moderate stance towards women, but is skeptical. .

However, with much of the country in chaos, Rahmanyar said his family members have no choice but to wait for the Taliban’s seemingly altered stance to be confirmed by the actions.

“At the moment, they are promising people that yes, girls can still go to school and yes, girls can still work,” she said. “But people are waiting to see what its true colors are.”

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This Canadian Press report was first published on August 19, 2021.

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