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Chronology of repression: The Taliban’s assault on women’s rights

Today is the second anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021. Since then, Zan Times has documented at least 45 oral and written decrees from the Taliban, all aimed at curbing women’s rights and freedoms. This list is a testament to the Taliban’s systematic and comprehensive elimination of women from all societal sectors in Afghanistan, which has been categorized into three main areas: education, employment, and the public sphere. In total, these actions show the Taliban’s desire to erase the advancements and progress made in Afghanistan during the past two decades. 

Together, the relentless violation and restriction of women’s rights paint a bleak picture of life under Taliban rule. This chronology of Taliban edicts should not just be treated as a list of events, but as a powerful catalyst for global action to ensure that those same decrees are never cemented as the inevitable fate of the women of Afghanistan. 

Taliban decrees from August 15, 2021 to August 15, 2023  

A) Depriving girls and women of the right to education: 

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  1. September 17, 2021: The Taliban issue a statement prohibiting the education of girls above the sixth grade. 
  1. March 21, 2022: The academic new year starts without the presence of girls above the sixth grade. 
  1. May 22, 2022: In Ghazni, the Taliban demand that girls in grades four to six must fully cover their faces. 
  1. September 10, 2022: The Taliban shut the gates of four girls’ middle schools, where girls were secretly studying in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, and another in Samkani district. 
  1. September 23, 2022: The Taliban send a letter to girls’ schools in Kandahar City, forbidding girls older than 13 from attending school. 
  1. December 22, 2022: The Taliban’s Ministry of Education issues an official letter to the central and provincial education departments, ordering that girls’ education in private schools above the sixth grade is prohibited until further notice. 
  1. October 6, 2022: During university entrance exams, the Taliban limit the fields of study available to girls. They are only allowed to select medicine, education, and religious studies. 
  1. November 1, 2022: The Taliban’s National University Entrance Examination Board decrees that female students must wear a full veil to enter the university. 
  1. December 1, 2022: The Taliban order that all male staff and professors at Kandahar University not to have any contact or communication with female professors and students. 
  1. April 25, 2023: The Taliban introduce gender segregation in state universities and that men and women be educated on separate days of the week. 
  1. September 18, 2022: The Taliban prohibit female students at state universities in Kabul, Kandahar, and Nangarhar from using smartphones or taking photos on campus. 
  1. September 17, 2022: The Taliban tell female students at state universities in Kandahar, Nangarhar, and Samangan that they don’t have the right to celebrate their graduation. 
  1. October 30, 2022: In Badakhshan province, the Taliban don’t allow female students wearing colorful clothes to enter the university. 
  1. December 20, 2022: The Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education announce a ban on higher education for girls, until further notice. 
  1. July 11, 2023: The Taliban’s Ministry of Education order the closure of 49 teacher training centres and 198 associated support centers in Afghanistan. 
  1. July 20, 2023: The Taliban do not allow girls to take the university entrance examination. 
  1. July 23, 2023: Taliban bans female voices on TV and radio channels in Helmand province. 
  1. August 4, 2023: The Taliban verbally inform schools in the south and east of Afghanistan that girls older than 10 years are not allowed to receive primary education. 

b) Depriving girls and women of the right to work: 

  1. August 28, 2021: The Taliban order female employees in government departments to stay at home, for the time being. 
  1. September 7, 2021: The Taliban announce their cabinet, which included no women
  1. September 17, 2021: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is dissolved. It is replaced by the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. 
  1. September 19, 2021: The Kabul municipality only asks female employees to return to their duties if their male counterparts cannot perform their tasks. 
  1. July 18, 2022: The Taliban order female employees in the Ministry of Finance to send a male family member to work in their place. 
  1. December 28, 2022: The Taliban order media outlets to refrain from broadcasting the voices of women. 
  1. October 6, 2022: The Taliban prohibit female businesswomen in Daikundi from working with male customers and employers. 
  1. December 24, 2022: The Taliban issue a decree prohibiting the work of women and girls in domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations. 
  1. April 4, 2023: The Taliban issue a decree banning women from working for the United Nations. 
  1. July 11, 2023: The Taliban issue a decree dismissing over 460 staff members from nurseries and state orphanages. The majority of these employees were women. 
  1. July 19, 2023: In an oral directive, the Taliban in Herat province ban women from working in saffron agricultural fields. 
  1. June 24, 2023: The Taliban decree that women’s beauty parlours would be prohibited as of July 3. 

c) Restricting the presence of girls and women in public spaces: 

  1. September 9, 2021: The Taliban prohibit people from demonstrating without permission. 
  1. November 21, 2021: The Taliban banned women from appearing on television shows in Afghanistan. 
  1. December 26, 2021: The Taliban decree that women cannot travel more than 72 kilometers if not accompanied by a male guardian. 
  1. January 8, 2022: The Taliban launch a campaign for the observance of hijab and install photos of women wearing Islamic hijab in public spaces of cities throughout Afghanistan. 
  1. March 27, 2022: The Taliban create gender segregation between women and men in public parks in Kabul. 
  1. April 27, 2022: The Taliban orally order driving school officials in Herat to stop giving driver’s licences to women. 
  1. May 1, 2022: The Taliban decree that male family members will be punished if women are seen without an Islamic hijab. 
  1. May 7, 2022: The Taliban order female TV hosts to cover their faces during broadcasts. 
  1. August 25, 2022: The Taliban deny 79 female students of the American University of Afghanistan permission to travel, citing their lack of a suitable “guardian.” 
  1. October 25, 2022: The Telecommunications Department of Oruzgan province orders SIM card sellers not to sell SIM cards to women. 
  1. November 9, 2022: In a decree, the Taliban prohibit women from going to public parks throughout Afghanistan. 
  1. November 10, 2022: The Taliban order women not to go to sports clubs. 
  1. December 13, 2022: The Taliban prohibit women from going to public baths
  1. March 12, 2023: The Taliban in Takhar and Samangan provinces ban women from entering restaurants unless they are accompanied by a male guardian. 
  1. May 13, 2023: The Taliban order restaurant owners in Herat province to stop men and women from eating together. 

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