Women’s Rights In The Balance As Beraka District Of Baghlan Comes Under Taliban Control


Kabul: In a regressive development for Afghanistan, Beraka district of the Baghlan province was attacked and captured by the Taliban at 10pm on Tuesday night, according to police spokesperson Ahmad Javed Besharat.

This is the first fall of a district to the Taliban since the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

The capture of the district comes even as there were concerns that with increasing violence and withdrawal of foreign troops from the ground, the Taliban would take over many provinces in the country. The Taliban rule is followed by regressive laws and rules, which the international community is afraid of. In fact, US intelligence agencies are warning that any gains in women’s rights in Afghanistan made in the last two decades will be at risk after the troop withdrawal. An unclassified report released on Tuesday by the Director of National Intelligence in the US says the Taliban remain “broadly consistent in its restrictive approach to women’s rights and would roll back much of the past two decades’ progress if the group regained national power”.

The concerns are now facing reality, as Taliban takes over Beraka. Besharat added that government forces were not harmed in the clash between the Taliban and security forces in the district, however, the Taliban had suffered casualties, but the exact number was unknown.

Besharat stressed that the security forces, with all their equipment, have been tactically evacuated from the district center and are currently being relocated to Tale Shakh area of the district to launch a recapture operation.

What lies next for the district is uncertain future, especially for the women. The Taliban last month issued a statement promising that women could “serve their society in the education, business, health and social fields while maintaining correct Islamic hijab,” referring to the Arabic word for veil.

But the report released on Tuesday underscores American skepticism of those pledges. “The Taliban has seen minimal leadership turnover, maintains inflexible negotiating positions, and enforces strict social constraints in areas that it already controls,” the report says.

Technology and international pressure could improve the treatment of women under the Taliban, analysts found. Afghanistan has about 27 million cellphone accounts, about two-thirds of its estimated population, which could potentially increase the world’s awareness of “extreme Taliban behavior,” the report says.

“The Taliban’s desires for foreign aid and legitimacy might marginally moderate its conduct over time,” the report says. “However, in the early days of reestablishing its Emirate, the Taliban probably would focus on extending control on its own terms.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has acknowledged that a Taliban takeover of the country is possible after the withdrawal. But he has also maintained that the group does not want to be a pariah and will have to embrace or at least tolerate the rights of women, girls and minorities if it wants to be viewed as legitimate by the international community.

Even on the peace process front, the Taliban has not had any women representative in the intra-Afghan talks up till now.

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