They have the candid and imploring eyes of children whose lives are about to change. They are only 8 or 5 years old, sometimes barely 3, and they know vaguely that their childhood has already been sacrificed. Forced into marriage by their parents for a few hundred euros, these little Afghan girls with poignant eyes embody the tragedy of an entire country, suffering the double yoke of misery and the tragedy of being born a girl.
In an Afghanistan ravaged by years of war and drought, which is once again living under the leaden screed of the Taliban, forced marriages have exploded in recent months, as evidenced by our special correspondents in a truly mind-blowing report. It is a real social scourge fueled by the humanitarian catastrophe that the country is experiencing, and which the Taliban would absolutely like to hide from the eyes of the world. It is also the symbol of the unprecedented regression that Afghan women are suffering today, victims of the worst setback of their rights and freedoms for decades.
A year ago, the world witnessed, dumbfounded, the rout of American forces, which pitifully put an end to more than twenty years of Western presence in Afghanistan. In the wake of the allied forces, which had driven the first Taliban regime from power after the attacks of September 11, the former government of Ashraf Ghani then collapsed. The Taliban recaptured Kabul in triumph and put an end to efforts to educate and empower women. However, having become essential to the reconstruction of the country, it is they who, unsurprisingly, paid the heaviest price during the return of the Islamists. Their fierce and retrograde patriarchy swept away in a few months the progress that had been made over the past two decades.
Like living in a prison with 1001 rules: being a girl under the Taliban
A cruel and immoral policy
The “new” Taliban, who wanted to falsely believe that they had changed, still have only one obsession: the application of Sharia, the establishment of the strictest moral order and the erasure women in the public space. The regime’s last hopes of normalization were thus dashed in March this year, when they refused to reopen secondary education to girls – we remember the shocking images of Kabul girls, in tears, forced to turn back before the closed doors of their schools.
In the factional wars internal to the Taliban, this decision sealed the victory of the hard line, far from any compromise with the international community. Since then, the regime has continued to stiffen, contradicting the commitment of its leaders not to reproduce the medieval rules that they had already imposed between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban have, on the contrary, multiplied the prohibitions, such as the obligation the wearing of the burqa for women in the street or the ban on working. At the same time, they let the country go adrift since international aid was completely cut off.
We must help Afghanistan (despite its regime)!
This policy is not only cruel and immoral, it is also ineffective and dangerous for Afghanistan. In recent years, women had begun to gain a place in society: their exclusion from the public space jeopardizes many households, which cannot do without their economic strength. The Taliban would be well advised to think about it, they who are still under the ban of the international community – no country has recognized their regime, even allied nations like Russia, China or Pakistan. As long as they do not grant minimum rights to everyone, including the right to education, they will not be able to claim the return of international aid, which is essential to countering rampant poverty. It is therefore absolutely necessary to support the efforts of the UN to put pressure on the Taliban regime. The West cannot forget their outdated war against women.