The rights of women in Afghanistan will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”, the Taliban say.

In the group’s first news conference since taking control of the country on Sunday, a spokesman said women would be free to work but gave little detail about other rules and restrictions.

Zabihullah Mujahid repeated that all Afghans must live “within the framework of Islam”.

Rights groups fear women’s freedoms could be eroded under the Taliban.

The militant group introduced or supported punishments in line with their strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law, when they controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Women had to wear the all-covering burka, and the Taliban also disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school.

In the news briefing on Tuesday, Mr Mujahid fielded several questions from the international media about what women’s rights could look like under a Taliban government.

“We are going to allow women to work and study within our frameworks,” he said. “Women are going to be very active within our society.”

But he did not expand when asked about dress codes and what roles women would be able to have within the country’s workforce.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Taliban declared a general amnesty across Afghanistan and said it wanted women to join its government.

Analysts say the group is running a sophisticated PR campaign in an effort to win the hearts and minds of both Afghans and the international community.

The message of the new rulers has been received with mixed feelings inside Afghanistan.

“I don’t believe what they’re saying,” a woman in Kabul who watched Mujahid speak on television told the BBC.

“It’s a ruse and we’re being lured outside to be punished. I refuse to study or work under their laws,” said another.

Yet some others saw some early promise.

“If we’re able to work and get educated, that’s the definition of freedom for me, that’s my red line. That red line is not crossed by the Taliban yet,” one Afghan woman said.

“As long as my right to study and work is protected, I don’t mind wearing a hijab. I live in an Islamic country and I’m willing to accept the Islamic dress code – as long as it’s not a burqa though because that’s not an Islamic dress code.”

Armed Taliban (or Taleban) militia fighters patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 17 August 2021
Taliban fighters with heavy weapons have been patrolling the streets of Afghan cities

Also Tuesday’s news conference, Mr Mujahid also:

  • Explained that the Taliban were actively working to form a government and it would be announced in the coming days
  • When asked about the risk of the country housing al-Qaeda fighters or other extremists, he said “Afghanistan’s soil is not going to be used against anybody”
  • He sought to strike a tone of conciliation, saying: “We don’t want any internal or external enemies”
  • The spokesman also attempted to ease fears among Afghans, promising an amnesty for former members of the security forces and those who worked with foreign powers

“All their rights within Islam” – that’s the phrase the Taliban have used countless times when it comes to the lives of Afghan women and girls.

In recent years, foreign envoys and Afghans have tried, without much success, to establish with Taliban leaders based in Doha exactly what that means.

I’ve heard references to women’s rights in conservative Arab societies including Saudi Arabia, or Qatar. A founding member of the Taliban once blurted out that university classes would have to be segregated, areas partitioned, with obligatory head coverings.

More telling are recent reports from rural and urban areas that women journalists have been told to go home, women in offices told their jobs would now go to men. Restrictions may vary by region.

It’s always been said that the rules in Kabul and other more open cities may be a bit different; women will now be testing the limits as a new order emerges.


The Taliban’s return to rule brings an end to almost 20 years of a US-led coalition’s presence in the country.

Kabul was the last major city in Afghanistan to fall to a Taliban offensive that began months ago but accelerated in recent days as they gained control of territories, shocking many observers.

Map shows areas of control in Afghanistan

On Monday, thousands of civilians desperate to flee the country headed to the airport where chaotic scenes unfolded throughout the day.

Many thronged the runway, running alongside a moving military transporter aircraft as it prepared for take-off.

Some clung to the side of a plane, and at least two of them are reported to have perished when they fell from the aircraft after it had left the ground.

American troops also killed two armed Afghans who were part of the crowd that breached the airport perimeter. Seven people are reported to have died in total.

Military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians were temporarily suspended due to the chaos, but they resumed on Tuesday.

Source: BBC