In November 2022, around a year after the Taliban had regained control of Afghanistan, the extremist group announced
that it wanted judges across the country to fully adopt the Sharia law.
Last week, the Taliban reaffirmed its commitment to implement the Islamic law. Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani said
to a gathering of religious and tribal leaders, as well as local authorities, that the current Jihad (struggle) is to implement Sharia law in Afghanistan, believing this move will strengthen the government and aid in the rebuilding of the country.
Loosely translated to sacred law, Sharia
refers to divine guidance that Muslims follow to live moral and righteous lives. As with all religious doctrines, however, there are many different interpretations of Sharia, particularly as it becomes transcribed into actual law.
The Taliban’s reading, however, is known to be the most ruthless
. The Taliban’s first rule over Afghanistan, which ran from 1996 to 2001, was marked by incredible repression
as the Sunni Islamist nationalist group applied its most stringent implementation of Sharia. This was a particularly difficult time for women, who, according to the religious law, occupied a much lower status than men.
Women were unable to work outside the house, to study, to wear make-up or otherwise revealing clothes, or even just to take up considerable space in society. Punishments were also punitive and often included violence and even public executions.
In late 2021, when the Taliban filled the power vacuum left behind after U.S. forces withdrew, the extremist group promised
a more moderate government that respected human rights, upheld democracy, and respected women as equals in society.
It readily became evident, however, that the Taliban did not intend to keep its word. Just a month after, the U.N. raised concerns
that these promises were being broken as women were ordered to stay at home and girls were prohibited from going to school. These abuses have only ramped up since, and the Taliban’s first year in power was marked
with extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, clampdowns on protests, and even more restrictions on women’s participation in society.