World Social media campaign highlights colorful Afghan clothing to protest Taliban dress code
The world should not yet engage with the new Taliban government
The Taliban must guarantee that it will respect our human rights before gaining widespread international recognition.I did not want to leave, but I had no choice. Soon after the Taliban assumed control of the capital city, its fighters started to look for me. They showed up at my house (which I had already left in fear of my safety) and harassed my family members and people working for me. They beat up my security guards and violently interrogated people who know me in an effort to find me.
After seeing photos of black-clad Afghan women in full face veils at a pro-Taliban rally in Kabul, Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-American historian, launched a campaign highlighting the vibrant colors of traditional Afghan dresses.
"I was very concerned that the world would think that those clothing worn by those women in Kabul was traditional Afghan clothing, and I don't want our heritage and culture to be misrepresented," said Jalali, who lives in Glenwood, Maryland, about an hour's drive from Washington.
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Jalali, 56, created the social media hashtags #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture, which quickly became popular, with women posting photos of themselves wearing colorful, embroidered Afghan clothing and smiling for the camera.
"Afghan women don't wear hijab," Jalali told AFP.
"We wear a loose chiffon headscarf that reveals the hair. And anybody who's familiar with Afghanistan history, culture, knows that the clothing worn by those women have never been seen before in Afghanistan," she said, referring to demonstrators at the pro-Taliban protest at a university lecture in Kabul earlier this month.
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About 300 women -- covered head-to-toe in all black in accordance with strict new dress policies for women in education under the Taliban -- waved Taliban flags, as speakers railed against the West and expressed support for the hardline Islamists.
Video: Afghan women campaign against Taliban dress code, and human rights concerns for miners in DRC (France 24)
"Afghan women don't dress that way. Afghan women wear the colorful dresses that we showed the world."
Women's rights in Afghanistan were sharply curtailed under the Taliban's 1996-2001 stint in control, but since returning to power last month, they have claimed they will implement a less extreme rule.
Rights groups accuse Taliban of rolling back civil liberties
Report accuses armed group of several rights violations ranging from limits on press freedom to restrictions on women.In a briefing released on Tuesday, Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) accused the Taliban of a number of rights violations including limits on the freedom of the press, restrictions on women and targeted killing of civilians and former government officials.
Women will be allowed to attend university, as long as classes are segregated by sex or at least divided by a curtain, and women must wear an abaya robe and niqab, which cover the whole body and face, save for a slit for the eyes.
Jalali moved to the United States when she was seven.
She remembers Afghanistan under secular rule, with some women wearing short skirts and sleeveless dresses on the streets of Kabul, while others choosing to wear headscarves.
In 2009, Jalali returned to Afghanistan to teach history and gender studies at the American University in Kabul, in what was the country's first gender studies program.
After 8.5 years there, she returned to the United States and now teaches Middle Eastern history at Loyola University Maryland.
"My students were very passionate about gender equality, male and female students," she recalled.
"So I really can't imagine how this new generation of Afghanistan that has never witnessed Taliban rule, that has grown up in a free and open society, is going to be able to adjust to this dark period that Afghanistan has now entered."
Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan's scholars and scientists face a grim future. But for some, there is hope .
Until August, they were part of a young, educated generation of Afghan scholars and scientists pursuing their dreams. Now they're running for their lives.On August 12, she was in a meeting and told her international colleagues that Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city, might fall in a few weeks.