The Taliban released a so-called “decree on women’s rights” on Friday that failed to mention access to education or work and was immediately panned by Afghan women and experts, who said it was proof that the militant group was uninterested in upholding basic freedoms for millions of Afghan women who have largely been constrained to their homes in recent months.
The decree, which sets out the rules governing marriage and property for women, states that women should not be forced into marriage and that widows have a share in their husbands property. “A woman is not a property, but a noble and free human being; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for peace…or to end animosity,” said the Taliban decree, released by spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
The Taliban have been placed under immense pressure to support the rights of women by the international community, which has mostly frozen funds for Afghanistan since the group seized control of the country. Instead, in their four months of rule, the Taliban’s leaders have imposed limits on girls’ education and banned women from certain workplaces, stripping away rights they had fought tirelessly for over the last two decades.
Afghan women interviewed by CNN on Friday said that the decree would do little to change their lives, adding that the rights detailed by the Taliban were already enshrined under Islamic law. The Taliban’s leaders promised that women would have rights “within the bounds of Islamic law” when they swept to power, but it’s been unclear what that would mean or how it would differ from the strict interpretation of the law imposed by the group from 1996 to 2001, when women were banned from leaving the home without a male guardian and girls were blocked from school.