Afghan youth rights activist Wazhma Sayle says she was shocked to see a photograph online, apparently of women dressed in black all-enveloping niqabs and gowns, staging a demonstration in support of the country’s new Taliban rulers at Kabul University.
The 36 year old, who is based in Sweden, later posted a photograph of herself on Twitter dressed in a bright green and silver dress captioned: “This is Afghan culture & how we dress! Anything less than this does not represent Afghan women.
It’s a fight for our identity,” Sayle said in a telephone interview.I don’t want to be identified the way Taliban showed me, I cannot tolerate that. These clothes, when I wear them, speak for where I come from.”
“At least they are able to tell the world that we, the women of Afghanistan, do not support the Taliban,” said Fatima, a 22-year-old in the Afghan capital.I cannot post such pictures or wear those kind of clothes here anymore. If I did, the Taliban would kill me.
Many women said they believed the purported protest, which has appeared on social media and in Western media, was staged and that several people dressed in the head-to-toe black burqa gowns were men.
It is good our women (overseas) were able to protest about it,” said Khatima, another young woman in Kabul. “The reality is, the burqa is not representative of women in Afghanistan.
When the Taliban was in power two decades ago, women had to cover themselves from head to toe. Those who broke the rules sometimes suffered humiliation and public beatings by the Taliban’s religious police.
While the new Taliban regime has promised to allow women more freedoms, there have been reports of women being barred from going to work, and some being beaten in recent weeks for protesting against Taliban rule.Universities have installed curtains inside classrooms to segregate men and women.