NEW DELHI, India, June 17 (IPS) — Gynophobia is defined as an intense and irrational fear of women or hatred of women. It can be characterized as a form of specific phobia, where a fear is based on a specific trigger or situation, which in the case of gynophobia is women.
After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, in August 2021 the Taliban completed their shockingly rapid and forced advance through Afghanistan by taking Kabul on August 15. What has followed this takeover has since been a series of human rights violations, humanitarian disasters, the rollback of women’s rights and media freedom – the main achievements of the reconstruction after 2001. The country has also faced a deadly humanitarian crisis, with malnutrition spreading across the country. struck, with 95 percent of households experiencing inadequate food consumption and food insecurity, this report said. The number of malnourished children in Afghanistan has more than doubled since August, with some dying before reaching hospitals.
According to this report, 9 million people are nearly affected by famine in Afghanistan, millions have been without a steady income for months. The economic crisis in Afghanistan has been lurking for years; the result of poverty, conflict and drought. This, coupled with a sudden drop in international aid, has made it harder for Afghans to survive, and the illicit opium trade and worrying drug addiction added to this list pose an ongoing challenge to the country.
But the priority for the Taliban was not to save the economy and the country from these disasters, instead under the guise of religion, before long the fundamentalist group concentrated and its misogynistic gynophobia towards the women and girls in the country, as expected. What the Taliban fears, again, Afghan girls going to school after sixth grade, a decision that directly affects 1.1 million high school girls and deprives them of a future.
Taliban officials have also announced that women and girls are expected to stay at home and that when they go out, they must cover themselves in all-encompassing loose clothing that only shows their eyes, making it one of the strictest controls on the security system. women’s lives in Afghanistan since it took power in August last year. They are so afraid of female journalists that they have ordered all female newscasters to cover their faces while in the air.
International human rights groups Human Rights Watch says the list of Taliban violations of women’s and girls’ rights is long and growing. Among the many that have been placed on the list are the appointment of an all-male cabinet, the abolition of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and its replacement with the Ministry of Vice and Virtue. Ban girls from secondary education, ban all jobs for women, ban women from long journeys or leave the country alone. “They have issued new rules for how women should dress and behave. They enforce these rules by force,” the report reads.
Women in Afghanistan have been fighting back since last August, through protests demanding the right to work and school.
“We know what is happening is terrifying, it is unjust, it is inhumane, what is the international community going to do now to facilitate accountability measures,” Wahedi said.
In 2021, Wahedi was named one of the Next Generation Leaders by TIME Magazine, its mobile app, Ehtesab, crowd-sourced verified reports of bombings, shootings, roadblocks and city services, keeping residents of Kabul safe. As a young tech entrepreneur, Wahedi says she is one of the few who has received her education and has the freedom to do what she wanted because times were different
“I feel incredibly guilty, I think most Afghan women who are from Afghanistan, who have been able to receive the highest level of education, feel a paralyzing sense of fear and guilt. Education is ingrained in our psyche from the time we were born of our parents, but for our country it was also different because we have seen war, we have seen instability, it is even more relevant to come out of this life, all Afghan girls , they know this and because it was taken so violently from them it has clearly affected their mental health, and I feel an inexplicable guilt for being in this position,” Wahedi said.
As has been shown in the past, women and girls have suffered the most under the restrictions of the Taliban and their imposed doctrine. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said in this report, “What we are seeing in Afghanistan today is the institutionalized, systematic oppression of women.”
In this interview for CNN, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s acting interior minister and co-deputy leader of the Taliban since 2016, said: “We keep naughty women at home.” After being pressured to clarify his comments, he said: “By saying naughty women, it was a joke that referred to those naughty women controlled by another party to question the current government.”
With the Taliban coming to power, there is no doubt that women in Afghanistan will continue to face an uncertain future and to avoid the irreversible damage being done to the female population, international communities and organizations should not only condemn the Taliban, but also hold them accountable and speak on behalf of Afghan women, before they are all forced into invisibility. No matter how much progress women have made in Afghanistan, the Taliban have reversed them through their rules and policies, pushing women into invisibility and widening inequalities against women. What they fear – women being educated, being seen, having an identity, agency, work, job, rights, freedom and their ability to hold them accountable. The reality of life under the control of the Taliban, regardless of the timeline, remains the same.
Sania Farooquic is a New Delhi-based journalist, filmmaker and host of The Sania Farooqui Show, where she regularly speaks with women who have made significant contributions to driving socio-economic change worldwide. She writes and reports regularly for IPS newswire.
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