The woman who sparked a social media movement to display traditional Afghan clothing has said that fundamental rights are “under attack”.
Afghan women around the world have this week shared images of themselves wearing multi-coloured, cultural dresses.
The online movement has protested against the Taliban’s hardline policies towards women and female dress code, using hashtags #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture.
The social media campaign was started by Dr Bahar Jalali, an Afghan historian and visiting associate professor at Loyola University Maryland.
Dr Jalali told Euronews that Afghan women are facing a “dire situation” under Taliban rule.
“The women of Afghanistan are facing an assault, their fundamental human rights are under attack,” she said.
At a rally organised at Kabul university, around 300 women could be seen wearing long, fully veiled black burqas, covering their faces and hands.
They had apparently gathered to support the Taliban militant order, waving flags at the demonstration.
But Afghan women have responded to the protests with their own pictures, stating that full veils have never been seen in the country.
Peymana Assad, the first person of Afghan origin to be elected to public office in the UK, also uploaded a photo of herself in colourful garments and tweeted; “this is Afghan culture”.
Dr Jalali told Euronews that the “harrowing images” had confirmed her worst fears about life for women in Afghanistan.
“It is highly debatable to what extent this clothing is part of Afghanistan as a modern Islamic country,” she said. “Taliban 2.0 is trying to implement a harsher standard for women.”
The Taliban have stated that modern clothing does not represent Afghan women and strict sharia law.
But many have expressed their fears that their freedoms will largely be restricted as under the previous Taliban regime that ended in 2001.
“We need to preserve our heritage, our culture, and our identity,” Jalali told Euronews, “our heritage is under assault.”
The Taliban have said that any street protests by women in the country must now be approved by the new ministry of justice.
Meanwhile, the militants have also replaced the Afghan ministry of women affairs with a ministry of virtue and vice. No women have been allowed to hold high-ranking government positions, while schools and universities will be gender-segregated with a strict dress code for female students.
Dr Jalali said she was especially concerned for young Afghan women who did not live through the previous Taliban regime.
“For the past twenty years, they have lived in a very different reality,” she told Euronews.
“The psychological and emotional impact of having to adjust to an extremely different reality is going to make it very difficult for them to focus on their studies if they have to constantly live in fear of violating Taliban regulations.”
“The entire international community must not abandon them,” she added.
Click on the player above to watch the full interview.