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Afghan women hit back at Taliban with #DoNotTouchMyClothes campaign after hijab mandate

The women posted images of themselves wearing traditional Afghanistan dresses registering their protest of the stringent dress code imposed by the Taliban.

Afghan women hit back at Taliban with #DoNotTouchMyClothes campaign after hijab mandate
Image sources: Twitter Left: @RoxanaBahar1 Center: @NahidFattahi Right: @SodabaH

The trajectory of Afghanistan changed overnight as the Taliban took over the country and ousted the government. The lives of Afghanistan women would never be the same again with the Taliban enforcing their interpretation of the sharia law. Taliban has already announced that women should wear black hijabs in schools and mandated segregation of genders in classrooms, separating them by a curtain within the classroom. The Afghan women are registering their protest of the stringent dress code by posting images of themselves wearing colorful traditional Afghanistan dresses on social media. The women made it clear that women in the history of Afghanistan didn't all wear black hijabs and accused the Taliban of trying to enforce a culture that was alien to the country. 



The online movement was started by Bahar Jalali, a former faculty member of the American University of Afghanistan. Jalali quote-tweeted a picture of a woman in a full black dress and veil, and wrote: "No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan. This is utterly foreign and alien to Afghan culture. I posted my pic in the traditional Afghan dress to inform, educate, and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban." This turned into a campaign as other women followed suit, by posting images of them wearing the traditional Afghan attire. The colorful dresses bore a stark contrast to the black hijabs mandated by the Taliban. This also came just days after a group of veiled women students held a pro-Taliban rally at the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul on September 11.



Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, head of the Afghan service at DW News, posted an image of  herself in traditional Afghan dress and headdress, tweeting: "This is Afghan culture and this is how Afghan women dress." Sana Safi, a BBC journalist based in London, posted a picture as well, writing, "If I was in Afghanistan then I would have the scarf on my head. This is as 'conservative' and 'traditional' as I/you can get." For the Afghan women who posted pictures, it was also about reclaiming their culture and not giving into historical revisionism. "Our cultural attire is not the dementor outfits the Taliban have women wearing," wrote Peymana Assad, a UK politician originally from Afghanistan. "This is Afghan culture."



 Shekiba Teimori, an Afghan singer and activist who fled Kabul last month, said that hijabs were always a personal choice as opposed to a government mandate in Afghanistan unlike what the Taliban is enforcing in the country. "Hijab existed before Kabul's fall. We could see Hijabi women, but this was based on family decisions and not the government," she said, before adding that her ancestors were "wearing the same colorful Afghan dresses you see in my pictures."



Afghan women protested the Taliban's regressive laws last month when they took out a rally and pledged allegiance to the country's identity and the flag on Afghanistan's Independence Day. As we reported, inspiring videos and photos emerged from the country showing a number of brave women leading men in protests against the Taliban on the streets of Kabul. Chanting slogans and holding flags aloft, many marched in front of and alongside men on the 102nd anniversary of the 1919 treaty that ended British rule.



After imposing a regressive rule for women during their reign from 1996 and 2001, the Taliban are now trying to portray themselves as moderates but their imposition of a regressive interpretation of the sharia law exposes their attempts as hollow gestures. During their previous rule, the outfit closed girls' schools, banned women from working, and largely confined them to their homes. Television and music were banned across the regions controlled by the group at the time and those caught violating these extremist rules were publicly executed.








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