After a
20-year-long break, the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. Taliban’s five-year
rule from 1996 to 2001 saw an overwhelming subversion of civil liberties,
especially women’s rights. Under the Taliban regime, women were punished for
speaking their mind and working with men and were stoned to death for adultery.
The way women dressed was policed and their bodies were under the strict
control of the state.

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The US
invasion of Afghanistan and the consequent overthrow of Taliban rule changed
all that. Afghan women once again had access to education and the right to work.
As the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan, the Afghan women worry what this
will mean for them and the way they choose to live their lives. Will educated
Afghan women who aspired a career have to return to the old ways of being? Will
their bodies be again policed by the state?

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Here’s a
look at what life was for Afghan women during the Taliban rule and what it
might be again if the Taliban were to reimpose their strict interpretation of
Sharia law.

1996 and 2001, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, women were not allowed to
work. Girls above the age of 10 were not allowed to get an education. They had
to cover their faces in public and always be accompanied by a male relative
when they ventured out of home.

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there were also the bizarre rules befitting medieval society such as: No man
should hear a women’s footsteps, high-heeled shoes should not be worn by women
and a women’s voice should not be heard by a stranger when she is speaking in

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In order to
prevent women from being seen from the street, the government had mandated that
all windows on ground and first floors of residential buildings should be painted
over and covered with a screen.

The word “women”
was removed from names of all places and women were not allowed to have their
pictures taken or be filmed. Pictures of women could not be published in newspapers
and books, suggest media reports.