Two days before the first anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, fighters from the radical group beat up female protesters and opened fire in the air on Saturday as they dispersed a rally in the capital city of Kabul. About 40 women marched outside the education ministry building and gathered chanting “roti, work and azaadi” before Taliban fighters fired in the air to break them down, news agency AFP reported. Some of the female protesters taking shelter in nearby shops were chased and thrashed by fighters with their rifle butts.

Some of the journalists covering the bustle – the first women’s rally in several months – were also allegedly beaten up by the fighters.

The women protesters carried a banner that read – ‘August 15 is a black day’ – as they demanded the right to work and political participation. Jolia Parsi, one of the organizers of the demonstration, told AFP that Taliban fighters tore down their banners and confiscated mobile phones of several women. Demonstrators chanted the slogan: “Justice… we are fed up with ignorance”, with many not covering their faces.

Despite promising a softer version of its harsh regime during the 1990s, the Taliban have imposed a number of restrictions, especially on women’s rights, since coming to power on August 15 last year. Thousands of young girls have dropped out of secondary schools as they continue to remain closed, while many women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.

The Taliban have also banned women from traveling alone on long trips and only allowed them to visit parks and public parks in Kabul on separate days from men.

Also, in May, Afghanistan’s supreme leader and Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada ordered women to completely cover themselves in public, including their faces.

The United Nations and other rights groups have consistently criticized the regime for imposing sanctions on women. In May, Richard Bennett, the UN special envoy on human rights in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul that the Islamic group’s policies “show a pattern of complete gender segregation and are aimed at making women invisible in society”.

Not only women, Afghanistan is sinking into poverty since the Taliban came to power.

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