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Taliban raid homes of Afghan women’s rights activists | Women’s rights and gender equality

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Taliban gunmen broke into the homes of women’s rights activists in Kabul, beating and arresting activists in a series of actions apparently sparked by recent protests.

Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parawana Ibrahimkhel, who have taken part in a series of protests in Kabul over the past few months, were arrested on Wednesday evening by gunmen claiming to be from the Taliban intelligence service.

Shortly before Paryani and her sisters were arrested, footage emerged on social media of her screaming for help, claiming the Taliban were knocking on her door.

“Help please, the Taliban have come to our house. . . only my sisters are home,” she says in the clip.

Associated Press footage from the scene on Thursday showed the apartment’s dented metal front door slightly ajar. A witness said the gunmen went up to Paryani’s apartment on the third floor and started knocking on the front door, ordering him to open it.

Taliban-appointed police spokesman in Kabul, General Mobin Khan, tweeted that the release of Paryani’s social video was a fabricated drama. A Taliban intelligence spokesman, Khalid Hamraz, neither confirmed nor denied the arrest.

He tweeted that “the insult to the religious and national values ​​of the Afghan people is no longer tolerated”, a reference to Sunday’s rally in which protesters appeared to burn a white burqa, the head-to-toe garment that does not leaves only a mesh opening for the eyes.

Hamraz accused rights activists of slandering Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders and their security forces to gain asylum in the west.

Similar raids have been reported on women protesters’ homes in Kabul. In another case, an Afghan protester, whose name has been withheld to protect her, said she was physically assaulted and injured. She told the Guardian that the Taliban visited her home and “attacked” and “severely beat” her. His whereabouts are now unknown.

“The Taliban had been patrolling near our homes for [Wednesday] afternoon. I spoke to Tamana in the evening, then around 9 p.m. I saw the video of her asking for help. We tried to call her from our mobile phones, but her phone was off,” said Wahida Amiri, 33-year-old librarian and fellow protester, also on the run. “When we realized that they were looting our houses one by one, the rest of us decided to hide,” she added.

Since taking power in mid-August, the Taliban have imposed widespread restrictions, many of them against women. They were barred from many jobs outside of health and education, their access to education was restricted beyond sixth grade, and they were ordered to wear the hijab. The Taliban, however, failed to enforce the burqa, which was mandatory when they ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

At Sunday’s protest, women carried signs demanding equal rights and shouted, “Justice! They said they might be forced to wear the hijab. Protest organizers said Paryani attended the protest, which was dispersed after the Taliban fired pepper spray at the crowd.

Paryani belongs to a rights group called Seekers of Justice, which has organized several protests in Kabul, including the one on Sunday. The members did not speak publicly about Paryani’s arrest but did share the video of her.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said that since taking power, the Taliban “have rolled back the rights of women and girls, including blocking access to education and jobs for many”. .

“Women’s rights activists organized a series of protests; the Taliban responded by banning unauthorized protests,” HRW said in a statement after Sunday’s protest.

The Taliban are increasingly targeting Afghan rights groups, and local and international journalists covering the protests have often been arrested and sometimes beaten.

“It is evident that the Taliban are stepping up their attacks on civic space, and specifically on women pioneers of civic space,” said Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

“For more than a month, we have seen the Taliban stifle dissent and intensify their attacks on protesters across Afghanistan,” Akbar added. “Earlier we heard reports that protesters in Mazar were arrested. There were also allegations that they were tortured, assaulted and harassed while in detention.

Heather Barr, associate director of the women’s division at Human Rights Watch, said the Taliban’s reaction was a sign of fear. “It may seem difficult to understand why the Taliban would have such a violent reaction to 25 women standing on the sidewalk, protesting peacefully. But their fears come into their own when you see how powerful and brave these women are, to come out again and again even in the face of escalating Taliban violence,” she said.

She urged the international community to step up its support for Afghan women. “The Taliban seem to be struggling to answer that, and seem to have decided now that increased brutality is the answer, and this is a very scary time. The international community needs to stand with these women.

The Associated Press contributed reporting

Taliban raid homes of Afghan women’s rights activists | Women’s rights and gender equality

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