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Taliban Militants 'Used Force' To Disperse Rally For Women's Rights In Northern Afghanistan

Taliban Militants Use Tear Gas, Fire Warning Shots As Women Demand Equal Rights
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Taliban militants have violently dispersed a crowd of women who had taken to the streets of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif to call for their rights be preserved and their participation in the new government, according to a protest organizer.

Dozens of women gathered in the city center on September 6, holding placards reading slogans such as “Violation of women’s rights = Violation of human’s rights” and “We want political participation at all levels,” according to photos shared on social media.

Protest organizer Shakourieh Rahimi told RFE/RL that Taliban militants used force to disband the demonstration, beating the participants as well as journalists trying to cover it.

The hard-line militant group did not immediately comment on the reported violence.

Paris Rally Pledges Solidarity With Afghan Women
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Similar rallies advocating for women’s rights and demanding equality, justice, and democracy took place in the capital, Kabul, and the western city of Herat in recent days.

On September 4, Taliban militants used tear gas and fired warning gunshots into the air as dozens of women held a protest in central Kabul to demand equal rights.

At least one woman suffered injuries in what was the second such demonstration in Kabul in as many days.

The Taliban seized control of most of Afghanistan three weeks ago, and have yet to announce their new government.

Women, whose freedoms were sharply curtailed under the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, are unlikely to be appointed to any top positions.

Asked on September 6 about the Taliban's treatment of women, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reiterated previous statements that women's rights will be respected under the framework of Islamic law, but he did not elaborate on what that will mean in practice.

The Taliban's education authority said in a document issued on September 5 that they will be allowed to attend university as long as classes are segregated by sex or at least divided by a curtain.

Female students must also wear a niqab, an Islamic veil that covers the face, and abaya -- a loose-fitting and all-covering robe -- as opposed to the even more conservative burqa covering the whole body, which was mandatory under the previous Taliban regime.

This story includes reporting by Radio Azadi correspondents in Afghanistan. Their names are being withheld for their protection.

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