In recent days, the Taliban has made gender segregation mandatory in classrooms and has declared that female students, teachers and employees must wear the hijab in accordance with the group’s interpretation of Sharia law.
On Saturday, photos emerged of a group of female students wearing head-to-toe black dresses and waving Taliban flags in the lecture hall of a government university in Kabul.
Other Afghan women responded by posting photos of themselves wearing bright and colorful traditional Afghan dresses, in stark contrast to the black hijab mandate defined by the Taliban.
Bahar Jalali, a former faculty member at the American University of Afghanistan according to her LinkedIn, helped launch the photo posting campaign, according to other women who shared photos on Twitter.
Quote from Jalali tweeted
a photo of a woman in a black dress and veil and said: “No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan. It is totally alien and alien to the Afghan culture. I posted my photo in traditional Afghan dress to inform, educate and dispel the disinformation that is being spread by the Taliban. ”
Other Afghan women quickly followed her example on social media.
Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, Head of the Afghan Department at DW News, tweeted a photo of her
in traditional Afghan dress and hairstyle with the comment: “This is Afghan culture and this is how Afghan women dress.”
Sana Safi, a prominent London-based BBC journalist, posted a photo
of herself in colorful traditional dress, with an additional comment saying, “If I was in Afghanistan I would have the headscarf on my head. It’s also ‘conservative’ and ‘traditional’ that I / you can get . “
Sodaba Haidare, another BBC journalist, noted
: “this is our traditional costume. we like a lot of colors. even our rice is colored and our flag too.”
And Peymana Assad, a local politician in the UK from Afghanistan, says in a message that
: “Our cultural dress is not that of the dementors that the Taliban make women wear.”
Shekiba Teimori, an Afghan singer and activist who fled Kabul last month, told CNN that “the hijab existed before the fall of Kabul. We could see hijabi women, but it was based on family decisions and not on the government”.
She said that before the Taliban came to Afghanistan, her ancestors “wore the same colorful Afghan dresses you see in my photos.”
The plight of women in Afghanistan has been of major concern since the Taliban quickly took control of the country following the chaotic withdrawal of US and international troops in August.
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 but were ousted from power after a US-led invasion, have historically treated women as second-class citizens, subjecting them to violence, forced marriages and an almost invisible presence in the country.
After reclaiming the country’s capital last month, Taliban leaders said they would not apply such draconian conditions this time in power. But the absence of female representatives from their newly formed interim government and an almost overnight disappearance of women from the country’s streets have raised serious concerns about what will happen next for half of its population.