The Taliban rushed into Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a year ago, as Western forces hurriedly wrapped up their exit.
Zabihullah Mujahid, who was speaking on behalf of the Taliban at the time, made a number of commitments to the new administration. Has the dictatorship kept its promises, then?
Women’s freedom was severely restricted under the previous Taliban rule in the 1990s; after the Taliban seized control last year, a number of limitations have once again been placed on Afghan women. Laws prohibiting entry into public spaces without a male guardian and dress codes have been implemented.
Schools resumed in March for a new academic year, however the Taliban broke a previous pledge and now forbid girls from attending secondary school. The Taliban has placed the blame on the shortage of female teachers and the requirement to set up facility segregation.
According to the UN, this has impacted an estimated 1.1 million students and has drawn strong international backlash. It is now possible for girls to attend primary school.
In February, some public universities reopened to both men and women. However, the World Bank reports that since the Taliban took power last summer, women’s involvement in the labor force has decreased.
Between 1998 and 2019, the percentage of women in the labor force climbed from 15% to 22%.
According to a July Amnesty International study, the Taliban in Afghanistan “totally destroyed the rights of women and children.” It brought attention to the mistreatment and torture inflicted on certain women who participated in demonstrations against the increased limitations placed on them.
Since the Taliban took control of the country in August of last year, the Afghan economy has reportedly shrunk by 30% to 40%, according to a June UN Security Council assessment. Although some foreign help is still coming into the country, according to an evaluation by the government agency that monitors US-funded reconstruction operations in Afghanistan, the economic situation is still “devastating.”
Afghanistan’s economy has suffered significantly as a result of the suspension of the majority of international aid and the freezing of access to the country’s foreign exchange reserves. The Taliban have tried to make up for this by raising tax collections and stepping up coal shipments to profit from rising world prices.
According to the Taliban’s three-month budget, which was released in January of this year, they brought in almost to $400 million in domestic revenue between September and December 2021. Experts have expressed worry, however, about the opaque manner in which these data were compiled. A fast deteriorating economic condition is a result of the loss of international assistance, security concerns, climatic conditions, and global food inflation.
The Taliban’s promise to stop the growing of opium poppies is similar to a strategy they implemented when they were last in power more than 20 years ago, with some degree of success. Heroin is made from opium, and Afghanistan has long been the world’s major producer of opium.
The Taliban forbade the cultivation of poppies in April of this year.
There is no concrete information on the effectiveness of the crackdown, but reports from parts of the province of Helmand’s poppy-growing regions in the south seem to indicate that the Taliban have been pressuring farmers to burn their opium fields.