Islamic Fundamentalism and the Subjugation of wome Essay

This essay has a total of 2810 words and 12 pages.

Islamic Fundamentalism and the Subjugation of women

Islamic Fundamentalism and the
Subjugation of Women.

On September 27th, 1996, the extremist militia, the Taliban, seized control of the capital
city of Afghanistan, Kabul. Up until that day, women and girls in Afghanistan could go to
school, work, and walk freely. Then the Taliban issued decrees banning woman and girls
from receiving education, entering the workforce or leaving their homes without a close
male relative as an escort, wearing a burqa. The Taliban violently plunged the occupied
territories of Afghanistan into a brutal state of gender apartheid in which women and
girls have been stripped of their basic human rights. The Taliban claims religious
reasoning behind this gender apartheid, using the Muslim faith as their backing, though
many critics denounce this logic, saying that The Qur’an condones no such thing.
Woman in Afghanistan have become but a shadow of real people. Not only can they no longer
enter the workforce or attend school, they cannot choose what they wish to wear, or call
to friends in public for fear of being beaten, stoned or killed. The female sex has truly
been enslaved by the Taliban, however what rarely comes to light, is that males in
Afghanistan have also had strictures of dress and conduct imposed on them. These
conditions have roused quite a varied response from the Western World. Western-born
Muslims who practice Islam identify with some of the Taliban’s strictures, even
wearing the burqa or hajib in Canada. Others who do not know the Muslim faith, are
outraged that woman can be subjugated so completely and that the rest of the world can sit
back and watch it happen complacently. Human rights atrocities are committed towards women
everyday by the Taliban in the name of their religion and their god.

When the Taliban first revealed themselves to the general public, they gave the world the
impression that they had come to rid Afghanistan of its problems. At first, all recognized
the Taliban as a legitimate Afghan force that had bright ideals of ridding Afghanistan of
disorder and

crime. However, as time passed, the true nature of the Taliban was revealed. Soon, the
Taliban became known as a militia that used a mixture of false Islam, Opium, and foreign
money. Members of the Taliban claim to be students of Islam, and their only desire is to
see Afghanistan come under Islamic rule. Their movement began in September of 1994, in
the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. At that time, they say Kandahar was plagued by
groups that robbed, killed, and raped the populace. One man by the name of Mullah Mohammad
Omar wanted to end these reprehensible acts, and so founded the Taliban as a means to
combat it. Today, the Taliban is something perverted from that original dream. Their
leaders have gone as far as to lay allegations that the government led by President
Rabbani was illegitimate and unislamic, therefore blasphemy. They even branded the famous
Mujahideen Commander Ahmad Shah Masood a criminal. Wherever the Taliban conquered,
destruction and oppression has followed. Author Asta Olesen summed up the Taliban’s
activities saying that many thousands of people had died, and anarchy had reigned because
of the Taliban’s imposition of excesses against the female gender as well as the
rest of the civil population (295). So far, they have destroyed historic artwork in
Herat, burned villages, committed atrocities against the Shias of Afghanistan, closed
schools for girls, banned women from work, started an opium boom, and oppressed men not
belonging to their group. In Kabul, they even gathered up hundreds of young men to use as
human mine shields. The Taliban may have begun as a movement to reform human rights
atrocities, but has instead descended into a group who generates its own human rights

The religion of Islam teaches that men and women are equal in the sight of their god. The
Muslim faith also tells us that “individuals should not be judged according to
gender, beauty, wealth or privilege” (Mustafa 480). The Taliban believes that woman
belong in seclusion in the home, where no man may see them and lust after them. They
believe that God has dictated they should remain secluded to gain religious enlightenment.
The Taliban Governor of Herat was quoted by Peter Marsden as saying: “It is a matter
of pride for all Afghanistan that we have kept our women at other country gives
women the rights we have given them...[they] have the rights that God and his messenger
have instructed, that is to stay in their homes and gain

religious instruction in seclusion” (98). Critics of the Taliban however refute the
idea that the Qur’an supports such ideals. The representative of the Jamaat-i-Islami
political party gave the viewpoint of his party by saying that contrary to what the
Taliban believes, the Muslim faith demand that women be educated, and that they ought to
be allowed to work provided they observe the Islamic norms of dress and conduct (Marsden
99). The role of women in the Muslim faith changes according to what political party is in
question. The Taliban believes that women should be out of sight as much as possible, and
when it is necessary that they be in public, that they be shrouded completely. According
to the Taliban, women should exist only as shadows, never speaking, rarely seen. Other
less fundament groups who follow the Muslim faith say that the education of women id
mandatory according to the Qur’an and that woman are equal to men, but ought to
retain modesty.

Up until the Taliban came to power, women in Afghanistan were active members of the
workforce and attended school. Journalist, Jan Goodwin noted that “until the Taliban
took over, 70% of the teachers and the students at Kabul University had been
female” (110). Female students were forced to drop out of school, forget their
dreams and spend the rest of their lives at home, or occasionally outside, wearing a
burqa. Some woman fought back against the oppression by schooling girls in their homes at
the risk of being beaten. Obviously no school supplies could be purchased so many made
their teaching aids out of scraps found around the house (Goodwin 110). Ms Goodwin
interviewed a woman who wished to remain nameless, yet had started a school for female
children, illegally, in her home. She felt that her only way to rebel against the Taliban
was to do this thing for the children deprived of education (Goodwin 110). Ms. Goodwin
quoted her as saying: “Im scared about what I’m doing but it’s the only
way I can fight back” (110). According to this nameless woman, even the children as
young as 6 years understand the danger of opposing the Taliban and the consequences that
would befall their teacher if the wrong person learned of their illicit schooling (Goodwin
110). It is sad that the pupils have become the outlawed teachers, imparting the small
knowledge given to them before the Taliban called education to an end. Perhaps someday
education will be attainable for women.

It is sad to know what it is like to be enthralled by knowledge, then in an instant have
it taken away completely, forever.

It is commonly held that Islamic woman should wear the hajib (the scarf covering the head
and neck) or the burqa (full body and face covering) as a sign of her faith, yet no group
has ever before made it mandatory and punished dissent like the Taliban. Peter Marsden,
author of The Taliban, stated that the Taliban have been more extreme than any other in
requiring that women’s faces be covered (91). The requirement that the burqa be worn
has imposed many constraints on the average Muslim family. When the Taliban banned women
entering the workforce, they took away half the economy of many families. “The
imposition of the burqa has placed an additional financial burden on...families at a time
when the economy has been deteriorating” (Marsden 91). The Taliban does not hesitate
to beat a woman caught without the burqa, or even if some of her skin shows beneath it,
say should a breeze catch it and blow it around her ankles. “The practice of the
Taliban of beating women with sticks...has had an enormous impact on the mobility of the
female population” (Marsden 90). There is a climate of fear which inhibits women
from leaving the home. Health care workers who are female have either abandoned their
jobs, or sleep at the clinics throughout the week to minimize the time they are exposed to
Taliban forces (Marsden 90). There is also a marked decline in the numbers of women and
children who attend health facilities as many are too afraid to step outside, not knowing
what infraction will bring death (Marsden 90). Woman have become sub-human, afraid to
tread to heavily in their own neighborhood. Sadly enough it is not the streets they fear,
nor crime, it is their government, those who are supposed to protect them.

The response to the donning of the burqa varies from person to person, culture to culture.
Much of the Western world is outraged that a country could subjugate their people so,
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