By Rukhshana Media
A group of women in Kabul protested against unemployment and economic hardship on Thursday, demanding that women be allowed to return to work and school. But the Taliban responded with violence, beating the journalists who covered the demonstration with rifle butts.
“Today, we didn’t ask for freedom. We shouted ‘work, bread and education,’ and we were marching toward the economy and finance ministries when the Taliban came and started beating the journalists,” said 25-year-old Mohammedi, one of the organizers who did not share her first name.
“We will continue our protests until schools are open to girls in all provinces, until women have the rights to work and education and the Women’s Affairs ministry is reinstated and government salaries are paid” she said. “We ask the international community to not recognize the Taliban regime until they recognize women’s rights.”
The protest started early on Thursday morning when several dozen women gathered to march toward the Ministry of Economy, shouting “The government should not deny our rights” and “We suffer poverty and we hate discrimination.”
They also staged their protest on the same day the new Taliban mayor of Kabul sent home a group of women who worked for the city government, saying they should stay at home until the Taliban can prepare a “safe environment” for their return to work.
Taliban soldiers quickly arrived at Thursday’s protest, and broke it up.
“We protested because we are under financial pressure, but the Taliban didn’t let us continue our march,” said 27-year-old Shayesta Safi, a former government employee.
“The Taliban threatened us, saying if we didn’t leave they’d beat us,” said a 22-year-old former journalist who did not share her name due to fear of retaliation from the Taliban.
“Before the Taliban came, I was a journalist and I was practicing karate. But now my office is closed and I am not allowed to practice karate,” she said.
Although the Taliban promised to respect women’s rights and press freedom in their first press conference on August 17, the group has banned almost all women’s work and education, claiming it to be “temporary” until they can prepare an “appropriate environment” for women to return to work and secondary school.