KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Inside the Sadat Beauty Salon in the Afghan capital, Sultana Karim leans on the client’s side, carefully raising her eyebrows. Makeup և hair styling is the passion of a 24-year-old և he discovered it, along with newfound confidence, here in the salon.
Other young women working or studying in the hall have never felt the Taliban take control of Afghanistan.
But they all worry that their dreams will come true if the hardline militants regain any power, albeit peacefully, as part of a new government.
“With the return of the Taliban, society will be transformed and destroyed,” Karimi said. “Women will be sent to hiding, they will have to wear a burqa to get out of their homes.”
She wore a bright yellow shirt that fell over her shoulders while working on her shoulders, a style that was a little bold even in all the women in the salon. That would have been completely out of the question during the Taliban movement, which ruled until 2001. US invasion. In fact, the Taliban banned beauty salons, part of a notoriously harsh ideology that often hit women and girls the hardest, including banning them from education, the right to work, or even travel outside their homes unaccompanied by a male relative.
Committed to ousting troops from Afghanistan by September 11, women are closely following the post-election prospect of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, said Mahbuba Seraj, a women’s rights activist.
The United States is pushing for a separation of powers that includes the Taliban. Seraj said women wanted written assurances from the Taliban that they would not change the achievements of women over the past 20 years, and that the international community wanted the insurgency to live up to its commitments.
“I’m not disappointed that Americans are leaving … it ‘s time for Americans to go home,” said Seraj, Afghanistan’ s chief executive officer.
But he had a message for the United States and NATO. “We are constantly shouting and shouting, ‘God forbid, at least do something with the Taliban, get some reassurance from them … a mechanism to work.’ which guarantees women’s rights.
In a statement last week, the Taliban outlined the type of government they were looking for.
It promised that women “can serve their society in education, business, health and social spheres by maintaining the correct Islamic hijab.” It promised that girls would have the right to choose their husbands, which was deeply unacceptable in many traditional tribal homes in Afghanistan, where husbands choose their parents.
The statement did not provide details, nor did it guarantee that women could participate in politics or move freely with a male relative.
Many worry that the Taliban’s vague terms used in their promises, such as guaranteeing the “right hijab” or “Islamic law,” give them a strong incentive to make harsh comments.
At the beauty salon, Ms. Sadat recounted how she was born to Iranian refugee parents. He was barred from doing business there, so he returned to a homeland he had never seen before, 10 years before establishing his own salon.
He asked not to be identified by his full name, fearing that attention might target him. In recent years, he has become more cautious, as violence and casual bombings have increased in Kabul over the past year. He was driving his car. No more.
Women working in the hall or building apprenticeships were afraid of the restored Taliban. “The Taliban name just scares us,” said one.
They are left to fend for themselves as to how much their rights can be compromised. Tamila Pajman said she did not want to “return to old Afghanistan” but wanted peace.
“If we know we will have peace before we work or study, we will wear the hijab,” he said. “But there must be peace.”
They all grew up in the early 1920s amid the gradual but significant gains women have made since the fall of the Taliban. The girls are now in school, and the women are in parliament, government and business.
They also know how reversible these achievements are in a predominantly, deeply conservative society with an overwhelming majority of men.
“Women who raise their voices in Afghanistan have been oppressed and ignored,” Karimi said. “Most Afghan women will be silent. “They know when they will be supported.”
Afghanistan is one of the worst countries in the world after Yemen and Syria, according to the Index of Women, Peace and Security at the University of Orjtown.
Life has changed little over the centuries in most rural areas. Women wake up at dawn, doing hard work at home and in the fields. They wear traditional blankets that hide them from head to toe. According to UN estimates, every third girl is married before the age of 18, most often in forced marriages.
Religious Conservatives, who dominate parliament, have blocked the passage of the Women’s Protection Bill.
The wider statistics of Afghanistan is also terrible. 54% of its 36 million people live on $ 1.90 a day out of poverty. Government corruption has swallowed hundreds of millions of dollars, say human rights activists and watchdogs.
At a bakery in Kabul’s Karte Sakh district, 60-year-old Cobra murmurs in an oak hut in a blackened hut in front of a clay stove dug in the floor.
The case is back, the smoke fills his lungs, the flames burn him. After paying for the firewood, he receives about 100 afghanis a day, equivalent to $ 1.30. She is the sole recipient of her sick husband և’s five children.
Next to him works his 13-year-old daughter, Me Armina, who helps bake and scrub the soiled floor. The women of the wedding bring their dough to bake, and me armina kneads it and puts it in the oven. They shout insults at him if he accidentally throws it in the fire.
Zameena never went to school because she needed her mother in the bakery, although her younger brother, 7, is at school. “If I could go … I would be a doctor,” he said.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, nearly 3.7 million Afghan children aged 7 to 17 are out of school, most of them girls.
Cobra is not waiting for the return of the Taliban. He is Hazara, a predominantly Shiite ethnic minority, who has been targeted by the Taliban and other Sunni groups.
But he also moves against the current government, accusing them of “eating all the money” sent to Afghanistan’s poor to feed their own corruption. For months, he tried to raise the poor for about $ 77, but each time he was told his name was not on the list.
“Who took my name?” he said. “You have to know someone, get in touch with the government, otherwise you will never get anything.”
Associated Press writer Tamim Akhgar contributed to this report.