10 Rules Women Had to Follow Under Taliban Regime in Afghanistan in 1996

Taliban took control of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on August 15. With Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country, thousands of citizens including a large number of women are trying to leave Afghanistan in despair. Videos and images showed civilians falling off C-17 planes during take-off after clinging onto aircraft's landing gear.

The Aziz Bank incident, where working women were pulled out of the facility and sent home showed how women's condition will be under the Taliban regime. In early July, Taliban fighters barged inside Aziz Bank situated in Kandahar and ordered women working in the bank to leave the place. They were asked not to return to work ever again. However, they were given an option – i.e. to fill the vacancy by sending one of their male family members to work instead of them.

Woman in burqa
Representational Image Pixabay

It looks like the situation women had to face in 1996 is going to return. It can be noted that before Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, women formed 25 percent of the working force in government offices. But on Sept. 30, 1996, Taliban said that women working outside their homes was a breach of purdah and Sharia law and banned women from any kind of employment. Here are 10 rules women had to follow during Taliban's previous rule in Afghanistan.

1) Living in Purdah

Taliban had vowed to bring back an environment where 'chastity' or 'dignity' of women was considered as sacrosanct. Based on Pashtunwali beliefs about living in purdah, burqa was made compulsory for women all times in public. The regime claimed that "the face of a woman was a source of corruption" for men not related to them. Thus girls had to start wearing Burqa when they turned eight.

2) Education, a Distant Dream

Every girl had to stop going to school when they turned eight. Until then too, they were allowed to learn only Quran. Thus under Taliban's previous regime, women sought education in underground schools. But if caught in action by Talibanis, they were not only fogged in public but were executed.

3) Visit to Doctors Banned

Women were not allowed to visit doctors or get treated by male doctors unless they were accompanied by a blood relative or husband. Many women were not even taken to doctors by family members and their illness remained untreated.

4) Banned from Streets, Balconies and Windows

Women could not walk alone on street, without being accompanied by a blood relative and without wearing a burqa. Windows of houses situated on ground-floor and first-floor had to be painted or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street. Women were not allowed to take a stroll on open balconies.

5) No to Shoes and Voice

Women were barred from wearing high-heel shoes. The reason: Taliban did not want men to hear women's footsteps in fear of it exciting them. Women were also not allowed to speak loudly in public as their voice was not supposed to reach any stranger.

6) No Pictures Please

Women's pictures [photographs] were not allowed to be published in newspapers, books, shops. Their presence was not allowed on radio, television or any kind of public gathering. In fact, the term women or woman was not to be used as a title anywhere. The names of shops that had women [like in 'Women's Saloon' or 'Women's Garden'] was changed after Taliban took control in 1996.

7) Ban on Rides

Women were not allowed to ride bicycles or motorcycles. They could not even board a taxi without being accompanied by a blood or close male relative. In fact, there were separate buses for women to prevent any contact with males who were not related to them.

8) Forced Marriage

Taliban rule encouraged the marriage of women under the age of 16. Thus Amnesty International reported that at least 80 percent of women were forced into marriage before they turned 16.

9) Confinement

With no much freedom even inside the house, women were said to have been suffering from mental stress due to isolation. According to one of the surveys [160 women took part in the survey], 97 percent of women were suffering from depression and 71 percent of them were also physically ill.

10) Punishments

Even wearing make-up and nail varnish led to severe punishments like cutting off of the thumb. Other punishments for breaking the Sariah law included beatings on street, being lashed on legs and back, striking them with a metal and leather whip, and even execution.