Murals in the dead of night: Afghan women resist Taliban’s imposition of dark days

For Kabul, murals aren’t just paintings. It is also a general expression of protest, resentment against both their past and present rulers

Shraddha Nand Bhatnagar Jan 11, 2022
Afghan women resist Taliban’s imposition of dark days

On 15 August last year, hours before the Taliban marched into the streets of Kabul, some people were in a rush, defacing posters, murals, and slogans on the city walls, shops, and stores—all that had come to represent the symbols of a changed country over the last two decades but were feared would be found heretical - and even blasphemous - by Afghanistan's new rulers. Those that survived the day were later erased by the hardline Islamist Taliban.

Over the next four months, the city changed dramatically, almost at the same speed with which the Taliban marched into Kabul after sweeping over two dozen provinces. Slogans, once depicting the country’s blood-stained progress on the city’s walls, were slowly changed, and now hail the Taliban’s victory over the United States. 

However, in the last few days, some murals and slogans popped up overnight, demanding women’s rights, freedom, and a life with dignity from the country’s new rulers, according to a report in TOLOnews. It is a new tactic of Afghan women, who lately have come to face a harsh crackdown at the hands of the Taliban. 

“Our protests were met with threats and violence, so we switched to murals to achieve our fundamental rights and will continue these protests,” Tamana Rezaie, one of the protestors, was quoted as saying by TOLOnews. 

Women, who suffered a big blow with the Taliban’s return to power have been at the forefront, opposing the Taliban’s inhumane and discriminatory policies, stripping women of their rights to work and education. Since coming to power, the Taliban, has shown little patience when it comes to protests. 

“Today’s women are not the women of 20 years ago,” said Navida Khorassani, one of Kabul’s women rights activists. “Our new protest methods will expand in all the provinces, and we will use any possible means to raise our voice.”

Over the few weeks, the group cracked down hard on organizers, including women who led these protest marches. As more and more women came out in the open, the Taliban shunned their reluctance against taking physical actions targeting women. Several women who had participated in recent rallies were arrested by the Taliban last week.   

The Taliban has shown little tolerance to protests, critics, and any opposition to their ultra-conservative rule in the country. However, women face the double brunt of Taliban rule which severely curtailed their freedom and rights.

“We want our rights. We will not let them be rolled back and will continue our protests until we are given our rights,” Darya Neshat, another women’s rights activist, said.

Recently, the Taliban banned women from traveling long distances without 'mahram; (male adult relatives). Having been at war for the last 42 years, Afghanistan is full of families who don’t have any male relatives left with them. 

There are thousands of widows who have the responsibility to feed their children but don’t have opportunities. For them, protests are the only option to seek changes to the Taliban's inhumane and discriminatory policies.  

For Kabul, murals aren’t just paintings. It is also a general expression of protest, resentment against both their past and present rulers. And, Afghan women now in the darkness of night are more determined to fight for what they say is their birthright. 


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