Taliban forces fired pepper spray on Sunday at a group of female protesters in Afghanistan’s capital demanding rights to work and education, three protesters told AFP. Since seizing control of the country by force in August, the Taliban authorities have imposed sneaky restrictions on Afghans, especially women.
About 20 women gathered in front of Kabul University and chanted “equality and justice” and carried banners that read “Women’s rights, human rights”, reported an AFP correspondent.
However, the protest was later dispelled by the Taliban fighters who arrived at the scene in several vehicles, three female protesters told AFP.
“When we were near Kabul University, three Taliban vehicles came, and soldiers from one of the vehicles used pepper spray on us,” said a protester, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
“My right eye started burning. I told one of them ‘shame on you’, and then he aimed his gun at me.”
Two other protesters said one of the women had to be taken to hospital after the spray caused an allergic reaction to her eyes and face.
An AFP correspondent saw a fighter seize a mobile phone of a man who filmed the demonstration.
Inside the new Afghanistan: France 24’s exclusive look at life under the Taliban
The hardline Islamist group has banned unsanctioned protests and often intervened to forcefully break up demonstrations demanding women’s rights.
Taliban authorities have blocked female civil servants from returning to work, many high schools have still not reopened for girls and public universities are closed.
Long journeys for women who are not accompanied by a close male relative have been banned.
The authorities have also issued guidelines that prevent TV channels from broadcasting series with female actors.
At the same time, many women live in hiding, fearful of a regime notorious for human rights abuses during their first term in power between 1996-2001, before being ousted by a US-led invasion.