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Assessment Task 3: Historical Investigation

Assess the impact of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996 on the rights and freedoms of
Throughout the period of 1996 to 2001, the Taliban generated significant change throughout
Afghanistan in regards to the rights and freedoms of women. Prior to 1996, the king of Afghanistan,
Amir Amanullah Khan and his predecessors emphasised the importance of women and their role in
society through promoting the gradual yet consistent development of the womens movement.
However during the 1990s an Islamic fundamentalist political group known as the Taliban emerged
as a result of constant conflict within Afghanistan. They gained support through ensuring the
provision of a stable government following years of contention and were able to establish control of
Afghanistan in 1996. Their main focus was to reinforce a patriarchal system within Afghanistan and
eradicate the support for womens emancipation through enforcing an extremist version of Sharia
law. The implementation of these laws facilitated the altered view of women in society and
ultimately contributed to the rapid decline of womens rights. Furthermore these policies created
severe ramifications in not only the lives of women at the time but also for generations to come.

Prior to the establishment of the Taliban, womens rights and freedoms in Afghanistan were
continuously developing. As a result of its leadership, Afghan society ensured women possessed an
increasingly influential social, political and economic standing. The government provided political
reassurance through establishing reformed laws, whilst also providing women the opportunity to
contribute to society. In 1919, Amir Amanullah Khan began to promote the modernisation of
Afghanistan through the development of womens rights. He provided women with the right to vote,
implemented the family code law, which prohibits child marriage and established Afghanistans first
constitution, providing equal rights (Riphenburg). Furthermore the burqa was made optional in
1959 and Afghan women began attending schools and universities (Kolhatkar, 2013). Women were
not only able to get an education and improve their way of life but their new found ability to be
involved in societal matters ensured their efforts and contributions to the overall develop of
Afghanistan were considered beneficial.
In addition, as a result of increasing rights and freedoms women in Afghanistan possessed differing
ways of life and roles within society, to those during the time of the Taliban. Women experienced a

life of freedom and opportunity, which was increasingly supported by Afghan society. Women were
not only allowed to attend school and university but were able to actively participate in society
without the consent of male relatives. This is reinforced by the image (Thornhill), depicting women
learning biology at university. This image provides a clear indication to the value and treatment of
women in society at this time and establishes the rights and freedoms women possessed.
Furthermore this image also demonstrates the non-existent requirement to wear the burqa. Thus,
womens rights and freedoms were consistently developing prior to the Taliban and allowed for
differing roles and opportunities in Afghan society.
However despite these developments the establishment of the Taliban government in 1996 impeded
the rights of women. Women experienced significant change in this period in regards to their rights
and freedoms as a result of the Talibans implementation of Sharia law. In the name of Islam the
Taliban created an oppressive regime which denied women and girls the basic human rights they
deserved. The Taliban imposed strict laws controlling womens involvement in government, work,
education, family, health and reproduction, and cultural expression (Riphenburg). These restrictions
resulted in the lifestyle change amongst women and their influence within society. Women were no
longer deemed valuable and were forced live a life of confinement. Women were unable to exit the
house unless clothed in a burqa and accompanied by a close male relative. Working was deemed
unavailable to women and many were left confined to the home. However this caused further issues
as many women were left widowed from the war, and as a result of being unable to work turned to
begging, selling all of their possessions or using prostitution as a method to develop an income.
Furthermore education at both the primary, secondary and tertiary levels were terminated and access
to healthcare was severely limited. Women were ultimately removed from society and unable
develop independence or be involved in social and political events. This treatment of women is
evident in President George W. Bushs words to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism,
November 6, 2001. Women are imprisoned in their homes, and are denied access to basic health
care and education. Food sent to help starving people is stolen by their leaders. The religious
monuments of other faiths are destroyed. Children are forbidden to fly kites, or sing songs... A girl
of seven is beaten for wearing white shoes. This not only reinforces the oppressive nature of the
Taliban but also highlights the abuse of basic human rights, especially in regards to the female
population of Afghanistan.
In addition the Taliban reinforces these harsh laws through brutal methods, which further deny
women basic human rights. The Taliban ensured all individuals in Afghan society upheld the harsh

laws through the inhumane and ruthless punishments. The recount from a fifteen year old girl from
Kabul in 1995 emphasises the merciless actions of the Taliban. They shot my father right in front of
me. It was nine o'clock at night. They came to our house and told him they had orders to kill him
because he allowed me to go to school. The Mujahideen had already stopped me from going to
school, but that was not enough. I cannot describe what they did to me after killing my father.
The girls recount of these actions accentuates the changes amongst Afghan society, as women are
no longer valued and free within society but instead live a live of subordination and oppression.
Women no longer possess the opportunities to attend school and university but are even punished if
found doing so. Hence, the Talibans reign impacted upon the rights and freedoms of women
through constituting significant change in both their role in society and their living conditions.

Furthermore, impacts on womens rights and freedoms also facilitated further detrimental issues
which still affect women in Afghanistan today. Due to a lack of education, access to health care and
employment many aspects of life for women have deteriorated. Illiteracy levels, malnutrition,
depression, poor living conditions, systematic abuse, child marriage and death in pregnancy are
some of the ramifications resulting from the sharia laws implemented by the Taliban. As a result of
the harsh Sharia laws, 85% of women have no formal education and are illiterate. Many women die
in pregnancy and childbirth with 460 deaths out of 100,000 live births were recorded in 2010 and
child marriage, which creates further complications such as increased health problems is a common
occurrence in Afghanistan with more than 50% of Afghan girls being married or engaged by 12
( These statistics highlight the effect of the laws imposed by the Taliban. Through creating
barriers between women and society, women no longer receive the necessary treatment for health
issues and are unable due to low social standing especially in the legal system to flee either abusive
situations or child marriage. Furthermore the lack of education means low literacy rates which
permeates into lack of employment. Thus, the Taliban's reign in Afghanistan initiated several
negative impacts in regards to the social, political and economic status of women.
Therefore, the Taliban created significant change within Afghanistan in regards to the rights and
freedoms of women. Not only did they re-establish the fundamental patriarchal constructs within
Afghanistan but also drastically altered the opportunities and role of women in society. They also
affected the rights and freedoms of women by impeding on their social, political and economic
involvement. Through initiating this change the Taliban also impacted on the rights and freedoms of
women as a result of affecting their quality of life.