On August 17, 2021, in his first-ever public appearance, the Taliban’s longtime spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced that the Taliban would be more moderate. Mujahid also vowed that the Taliban would forego any revenge against those who resisted their return, and promised that the regime would respect women’s rights.
The promise to respect women’s rights includes letting women work and attend school, including the chance to attain post-graduate education. Mujahid assured the Afghan people and the world that “women are going to be very active in the society.”
But Mujahid’s promise on behalf of the Taliban isn’t without caveats. He kept repeating that whatever promise they have made regarding respecting women’s rights will be implemented “within the framework of Islamic law.” But many are not convinced; many fear that after a few months of “moderate” policies and propaganda to seemingly address the fears of NATO-allied countries, the Taliban will go back to its brutal and absolute implementation of Islamic laws.
Less than a month after the Taliban scrambled to assemble a skeletal government, the women of Afghanistan are fighting back. There are reports of crowds gathering to demonstrate against the Taliban. The majority of the crowds are composed of groups of women protesting for their rights in the streets of Kabul. “We want equal rights, we want women in government,” they chanted but were meet with violence, quite punitively.
Now, the fight for women’s rights within the Taliban regime moves to a new front online. The hashtag #DoNotTouchMyClothes is slowly gaining traction online. The online movement directly responds to the Taliban’s rehearsed conference at the Shaheed Rabbani Education University, where women clad in a burka, covered in black from head to toe. They were asked to hold Taliban flags while listening to a woman speaker with dubious attentiveness.
The online campaign involves women all over the world posting themselves wearing colorful traditional Afghan clothes. A direct and stark comparison to what the Taliban wants. These multi-colored dresses come with many unique variations from different regions of Afghanistan. The dress also includes pleated, long skirts perfect for Afghanistan’s national dance, Attan.