NEW DELHI, India, June 17 (IPS) – Gynophobia is defined as an intense and irrational fear of women or hatred of women, it can be characterized as a form of specific phobia, which involves a fear centered on a specific trigger or situation , which in the case of gynophobia is the woman.
After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, in August 2021, the Taliban completed their surprisingly fast and forced advance through Afghanistan, capturing Kabul on August 15. What followed this takeover has since been a series of human rights violations, humanitarian catastrophe, setbacks in women’s rights and media freedom – the main achievements of the post-2001 reconstruction effort. The country is also facing a deadly humanitarian crisis, with malnutrition increasing across the country, with 95% of households experiencing insufficient food consumption and food insecurity, according to this report. The number of malnourished children in Afghanistan has more than doubled since August, with some dying before reaching hospitals.
According to this report, 9 million people are close to being afflicted by hunger in Afghanistan, millions have spent months without a steady income. Afghanistan’s economic crisis has been raging for years; result of poverty, conflict and drought. This, combined with a sudden drop in international aid, has made it harder for Afghans to survive, adding to that list the illicit opium trade and worrying drug addiction, an ongoing challenge for the country.
However, the Taliban’s priority was not to save the economy and country from these disasters, but under the cloak of religion, it didn’t take long for the fundamentalist group to focus and show their misogynistic gynophobia towards the country’s women and girls, as it was to be expected. What the Taliban fears, once again, is Afghan girls attending school beyond the 6th grade, a decision that directly affects 1.1 million high school girls, depriving them of a future.
Taliban officials have also announced that women and girls must stay at home and, if they venture out, they will have to cover themselves in baggy clothing that only reveals their eyes, making it one of the strictest controls on women’s lives worldwide. Afghanistan since taking power in August of last year. They fear women journalists so much that they ordered all female hosts to cover their faces while on air.
International human rights groups, Human Rights Watch, say the list of violations of the rights of women and girls by the Taliban is long and growing. Among many that have been listed include the appointment of an all-male cabinet, the abolition of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and its replacement by the Ministry of Vice and Virtue. Banning secondary education for girls, banning women from all jobs, preventing women from traveling long distances or leaving the country alone. “They have issued new rules on how women should dress and behave. They enforce these rules through violence,” he said in this report.
Women in Afghanistan, since last August, have been fighting against it, through protests demanding the right to work and school.
“We know what’s happening is terrifying, it’s unfair, it’s inhumane, what the international community is going to do to facilitate accountability measures now,” says Wahedi.
In 2021, Wahedi was named a Next Generation Leader by TIME Magazine, its mobile app, Ehtesab, crowd-sourced sources verified reports of bombings, shootings, roadblocks and city service issues, helping Kabul residents to stay safe. As a young tech entrepreneur, Wahedi says she is among the few who got her education and the freedom to do whatever she wanted, as times were different.
“I feel incredibly guilty, I think most Afghan women outside Afghanistan, who have been able to pursue education at the highest level, feel a crippling sense of anxiety and guilt. Education has been ingrained in our psyche since we were born from our parents, but for our country it was also different because we saw war, we saw instability, it is even more pertinent to get out of this life, all Afghan girls, they know this and take it away from them so violently, obviously affected his mental health, and I feel an inexplicable level of guilt for being in that position,” says Wahedi.
Women and girls continued to bear the brunt of restrictions under the Taliban and its enforced doctrine, as seen in the past. The United Nations High Commissioner’s Office for Human Rights (UNHCR) said in this report: “What we are witnessing today in Afghanistan is the systematic and institutionalized oppression of women.”
In this interview with CNN, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s acting interior minister and deputy Taliban leader since 2016, said, “We keep disobedient women at home.” After being pressed to clarify his comments, he said: “By saying naughty women, it was a joke referring to those naughty women who are controlled by some other side to question the current government.”
With the Taliban coming to power, there is no doubt that women in Afghanistan will continue to face an uncertain future, and to avoid the irreversible damage being done to the female population, communities and international organizations must not only condemn the Taliban, but also holding them accountable and speaking out on behalf of Afghan women, before they are all forced into invisibility. Whatever little progress women have made in Afghanistan, the Taliban, through their rules and policies, have reversed them, pushing women into invisibility and exacerbating inequalities against women. What they fear – women being educated, being seen, having an identity, agency, job, job, rights, freedom and their ability to hold them accountable. The realities of life under the Taliban’s control, whatever the timeline, remain the same.
Sania Farooqui is a journalist, filmmaker and presenter on The Sania Farooqui Show in New Delhi, where she regularly speaks to women who have made significant contributions to bringing about socio-economic change globally. She writes and reports regularly for the IPS news network.
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