Women in Afghanistan have launched an online campaign as a sign of protest against the new dress code for female students.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano
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The return of the Taliban to power has been a challenge for women in Afghanistan. Some of them have had to flee their homes, while others have been forced to leave their jobs and others have been killed. Despite the persecution, they have launched an online campaign as a sign of protest against the new dress code for female students.
Since the Taliban captured Afghanistan and came to power, there have been many consequences for women. During the last month, the Taliban imposed a new dress code as well as gender segregation for women at private universities and colleges in Afghanistan. According to a decree issued to educational institutions on September 5, every female student, as well as teachers and staff has to wear an Islamic abaya robe and niqab that covers their hair, body, and part of the face. The decree also mentions that the garments have to be black and women have to wear gloves to cover their hands.
Also, the Taliban mentioned that classes must be segregated by gender, or at least divided by a curtain. Additionally, female students will only be allowed to be taught by other women. All of these new rules, seem to contradict the initial statement of the Taliban, which guaranteed that women and girls would have all their rights within Islam. It is worth highlighting that before the return of the Taliban, Afghan women studied alongside men and were allowed to have male teachers. There was also no compulsory dress code for females.
As a sign of protest against the new restrictions, Afghan women have launched an online campaign using hashtags such as #Donotouchmyclothes and #Afghanistanculture. Many women participating in the campaign have shared pictures of their colorful traditional dresses. The campaign was started by Bahar Jalali, a woman who used to be a history professor at the American University in Afghanistan, initially to protest against the decision of the Taliban to impose the compulsory use of the Hijab for women. In her Twitter account, she uploaded a picture of herself wearing a traditional dress with embroidery. Bahar tweeted: “This is Afghan culture. I am wearing a traditional Afghan dress.”
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As a response to the initiation of the online protest, other women started to upload pictures of themselves or their female relatives wearing traditional dresses from their country.
In a recent interview, Jalali mentioned that she started the campaign because “One of my biggest concerns is Afghanistan’s identity and sovereignty is under attack.” She also said: “I wanted to inform the world the attires that you've been seeing in the media [referring to those worn by women at the pro-Taliban rally] that's not our culture, that's not our identity." Even though all of the regions in Afghanistan have their traditional clothes, they have a common pattern: Embroidery, mirrors, and many colors, and several female activists are claiming that their clothes are vital to their identity.
The Taliban Officials have stressed that women will be allowed to work and study but they will have to comply with the strict dress code. Still, several women feel like the imposed dress code is against their culture and history and that it does not reflect the beauty of their traditions. Other supporters of the campaign have argued that the burqa has never been part of the Afghan culture and that they will not allow the Taliban to erase them. It has become clear by the online movement, that Afghan females are willing to lead a peaceful protest against the recently imposed dress code to protect their culture and traditions!