News from Afghanistan…

Press release no. 8 – 16 August 2023

We publish this press release from the Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women following the Taliban government’s decision to close all the country’s beauty salons, thereby depriving tens of thousands of women of their jobs and closing one of the last places where women could meet.

The Taliban responds to women’s calls for freedom with bullets and violence

On July 19, 2023, dozens of young women and girls took to the streets of Kabul and chanted the slogan “work, bread and freedom”. These women protested against the order to close women’s beauty salons and asked the Taliban government to let women work and study.

Although the women’s demonstration was held in a peaceful and civil manner, the misogynistic police of the Taliban prevented the continuation of the women’s demonstration. The Taliban used sprinklers, aerial fire and violence against protesting women to scatter them. Dozens of women were beaten and injured by the Taliban. The Taliban searched and chased the organizers of the demonstration, at least 8 women were detained during/after the demonstration and then transferred to an unknown location.

According to the order of the Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhund, on July 3rd the “Ministry of Vice and Virtue” gave a month’s deadline to all the owners of all women’s beauty salons to close their businesses. The Taliban consider the industry of women’s beauty parlors to be against Islamic Sharia.

‌Based on the figures of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, there are 3,100 hairdressing salons in Kabul and 12,000 beauty salons in other provinces, where more than 60,000 women work. Every woman who works in this business is the sole breadwinner of her family of 6 people. By closing women’s beauty salons, the Taliban are actually directly confronting 360,000 people with starvation and poverty.

By brutally suppressing, killing and imprisoning dozens and hundreds of protesting women, the Taliban thought that women would no longer have the courage to protest and fight publicly, but on Wednesday, brave Afghan women proved that the voice of justice will never be silenced and that women will continue to fight and protest for their right to work, education and freedom, accepting any kind of risk.

Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women (SMAW) – July 20, 2023, Kabul

* * *

Success for the second European Tour of the International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women

Five conferences (Lisbon, Bilbao, Marseille, Turin and Geneva), presented by Ranna Amani

The cause of Afghan women mobilised a large number of women, political and trade union activists, elected representatives and lawyers during the second European Tour* organised by the International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women.

In Lisbon (Portugal) on 26 June, Bilbao (Spain) on 27 June, Marseille (France) on 28 June, Turin (Italy) on 29 June and Geneva (Switzerland) on 30 June, Ranna Amani, an activist with the Afghan Women’s Spontaneous Movement, described the plight of women in her country since the Biden administration reinstated the obscurantist and reactionary Taliban militia to power in August 2021.

Speaking before an attentive audience, Ranna Amani outlined the foundations of the spontaneous Afghan Women’s Movement, which was formed in Kabul in September 2021: “Our movement is social, independent, democratic and secular. We are fighting for total gender equality and for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. A Taliban government or one made up of Taliban and jihadists guilty of war crimes and corrupt remnants of the previous regime (the one that reigned during the twenty years of NATO occupation – editor’s note) is unacceptable. We demand that foreign countries stop interfering in Afghanistan’s affairs. We want a secular and democratic government based on free national elections“.

Ranna recalled the many initiatives taken by the movement, despite the terrible repression against them: demonstrations against the exclusion of women and girls from schools and universities, and more generally from the public sphere; the creation of “protection houses” to house women activists persecuted by the regime; and the setting up of clandestine schools for young girls.

All of these public meetings were an opportunity for participants to express their indignation at attempts to give official recognition to the bloodthirsty Taliban regime.

For example, the eighty participants at the Marseille meeting unanimously condemned “the hypocrisy of the Norwegian government in inviting representatives of the Taliban regime to the ‘Forum for Freedom’ in Oslo from 13 to 15 June”.

The mayor of Marseille’s 4th and 5th sectors, Didier Jau, was there to wish the Afghan women activists “courage in your struggle for your rights“.

In Bilbao, the fifty-five participants – women activists, labour and anti-war activists – pledged “to appeal to the authorities in our country, that immediate asylum be granted to the threatened activists“.

The same commitments were made in Turin, Marseille, Geneva and Lisbon, where the meeting was held in the offices of the women’s organisation UMAR, founded in the wake of the 1974 Portuguese revolution.

* At the beginning of June, a first tour presented by Hasina Sadet took place in Metz (France), Brussels and Liège (Belgium), Erfurt and Berlin (Germany).

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