Afghan women defy crackdown and protest against Taliban’s recognition by foreign nations

In Kabul, Afghan women held a demonstration against the Taliban government, calling for foreign countries not to formally recognise the regime ahead of a UN summit in Doha.

Since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, demonstrators have been detained or beaten for expressing opposition against the creeping curbs on women’s rights, and security forces have fired at some rallies.

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However, small groups of women have continued to organise sporadic demonstrations. During the latest protest, around 25 women marched in a residential area in the Afghan capital, chanting slogans such as “Recognition of Taliban — violation of women’s rights,” “Afghan people, hostages of Taliban,” and “We will fight, we will die, we will take our rights”.

The march lasted for about ten minutes and ended peacefully without confrontation with security forces.

So far, no nation has acknowledged the Taliban government as legitimate since the group returned to power on the heels of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

A Taliban government that ruled from 1996 to 2001 was only granted formal recognition by three countries – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Diplomats, NGOs, and aid agencies are divided over the issue of whether the international community should recognise the Taliban government or not.

Some believe that the international community could pressure the Taliban into reversing curbs on women’s rights by offering recognition, while others argue that discussing it grants the Taliban legitimacy at a time when they are squeezing women out of public life. The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed stated that envoys could discuss “baby steps” on the path to recognition, albeit with conditions at the upcoming Doha meeting.

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The UN has already announced that the “de facto authorities” of Afghanistan have not been invited to the conference in Doha. Protester Shamail Tawana Nasiri, 26, told reporters that any discussion of formal recognition “will give the Taliban motivation” and increase the concerns of oppressed women whose rights have been taken away.

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