Christians Must Speak Up for the Women of Afghanistan

Scripture is clear on the matter, as both groups find themselves endangered at the hands of the Taliban.

On Sunday, August 15, the Taliban entered Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and quickly took control of the city. Haunting images and videos depict the desperation of the Afghans trying to flee as the Taliban returns to power. There is grave concern for what the Taliban’s swift takeover will mean for the future of religious and ethnic minorities and especially for a whole segment of the population rendered vulnerable by their takeover –– women and girls.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said in a press conference from Kabul that “the group would honor women’s rights and an independent media, but within the ‘frameworks’ of Islamic law.” He went on to promise that “there will be no violence against women” and that “women would be allowed to work and study.” Despite this lip service, the older generation of Afghans remember the oppressive conditions for females when the Taliban took control in 1996.

At that time, Taliban leaders declared an Islamic emirate, imposing a harsh interpretation of the Koran and enforcing it with brutal public punishment. They pledged to put Islamic values first and to battle corruption. During the Taliban’s reign of terror, women’s basic freedoms “were severely restricted, other human rights were limited and executions were carried out in public,” according to a news report in Axios. Women were barred from attending school, from working outside the home, and from leaving the house without a male chaperone. Widows couldn’t work and begging was their only means of survival. Underground schools formed for girls, as older women quietly defied the Taliban’s brutal oppression of women.

Not only is Afghanistan a dangerous place to be a woman, it’s also an extraordinarily dangerous place for Christians. According to Open Doors USA’s annual World Watch List, the second-most dangerous place to be a Christian in the world is Afghanistan, only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea. It’s nearly impossible to live freely as a Christian in Afghanistan, as Christian converts must either flee or risk facing “honor” killings at the hands of their Muslim family. Sadly, the intense persecution of Christians has not diminished over the past 20 years. While Afghans were able to enjoy other types of liberty, religious freedom was not upheld or protected.