#Donttouchmyclothes: Here’s how Afghan women are protesting against the Taliban

Afghan women protest against the new dress code imposed by the Taliban group. Here’s all you need to know about it.

Ever since the Taliban took over the reins of Afghanistan, the women in the country have only feared the worst. With the United States and allies holding the fort for the Afghan government for two decades against the Taliban, women had access to education, media roles, jobs to take public and governmental positions. As the US withdrew its armies from the country, the fate of many Afghans, especially women, was left hanging.

Returning to power, the Taliban promised a liberal approach towards the citizens, but as many predicted and expected, they were as hollow as their “government” itself. They have limited women’s rights under Sharia law. Two months into their reign, the Taliban moral police has made it compulsory for women to wear hijab at all times. Over 300 women wearing all-black fully covered garments in Kabul University organized a demonstration in favor of the Taliban group and its decision to exclude women from high-ranking government positions. In response to this demonstration and the rigid dress code that is being enforced upon women, an online protest gained momentum all over the world.

Afghan women shared photos on social media wearing traditional Afghani clothes with hashtags like #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanCulture. It is to emphasize on the fact that traditional Afghan attires are far from what the Taliban has mandated for women. Traditional Afghan clothes are multi-colored attires with handmade heavy embroidery with embedded mirrors and long pleated skirts. They are worn during “Attan,” the national dance of Afghanistan. Depending on the region the citizens come from, they also wear hats or heavily embroidered pieces on the head.

This is quite the opposite of what the Taliban has made compulsory for them. Taking over Afghanistan, the Talibani Education ministry announced that “women students, teachers and staff must wear an abaya and niqab that covers the hair, body, and most of the face,” as reported by Gandhara. The clothes must be all-black, and the hands should be covered with gloves.

The Afghan women protest Taliban’s hijab diktat was started by Dr. Bahar Jalali, a former history professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “I wanted to inform the world the attire that you’ve been seeing in the media [referring to those worn by women at the pro-Taliban rally] that’s not our culture, that’s not our identity,” she said as reported by BBC. Dr. Jalali posted a photo of herself donning the traditional attire and urged other women to share theirs in the quest to show the “true face of Afghanistan”.

Hundreds of Afghan women joined the campaign as a protest against the Taliban’s strict dress code. Taliban is known for its conservative ideologies through which it suppresses Afghan citizens, especially women. During their last stint in power from 1996 to 2001, the group banned women from workplaces, stopped them from leaving their homes unaccompanied by the male relative, and forced them to wear the burqa at all times. This time they claimed to embrace a modern approach, but with mandating rigid dress code for women and excluding them from prominent positions in the government offices, one can only imagine what lies ahead for Afghan women under their rule. They also replaced the Women’s Ministry with the Ministry of Virtue and Vice.

Women’s rights activist Loujain-Al-Hatoul was awarded a top European rights award for tirelessly working towards women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia. Read this blog to know more about her. You can also read our other blogs on the website.
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Image credits: EPA