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The Effect of the Taliban Upon Women in Society

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Society’s individuals – particularly women – are greatly affected by the social structure due to the ideologies of the Taliban. Because of the laws set by this Islamist militia group, the unequal treatment between men and women based on the limitations to just the female gender cause corruption among society. Just a few of the policies set by the Taliban include the restriction of women appearing on the streets without a blood relative and without a Burqa, women live based on the decisions of men, and the importance of educating men rather than women. These policies have been shown both in the book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, and in real life.

Primarily, the first law aimed only at women was “You will stay inside your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram, a male relative” (Hosseini 270). The second law aimed only at women was “You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with Burqa when outside” (Hosseini 270). These are two laws that clearly demonstrate the inequality between men and women. An example of this can be found in the book on page 313, when Laila leaves her home unaccompanied by a male relative to visit Aziza in the orphanage. Several times, Laila is brutally beaten and questioned by many Taliban members. Not only do situations such as this occur in the book, but they also have occurred in real life. In the December of 1996, Radio Shari’a had announced that nearly 230 women of Kabul were seized and then severely punished for their violation of Sharia dress code. The women were beaten for their crime after the sentence was handed down by a tribunal.

A second ideology of the Taliban that greatly impacted the social structure of society was that women lived entirely based on the decisions of men. Just because of the great inequality between the genders, men were much more valued in society – to the point where they had complete control over women. An example of this in the book is when Nana was accused of forcing herself onto Jalil – despite the fact that it was a mutual relationship. But just as Nana says, “Like a compass needle points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman” (Hosseini 24). This is also demonstrated in the book when Rasheed tells Laila that if she leaves, he can place blame on her and the Taliban would take his word over hers – regardless if it was truth or not. This is demonstrated largely in the real world as well. Twelve years ago, in 1999, a mother of seven faced execution in front of over 30,000 people in Kabul’s Ghazi Sport Stadium for allegedly murdering her abusive husband after being imprisoned and tortured for three years before the execution.

Lastly, education has been a field in which men are prioritized over women. In Mariam’s situation of when she was just a young girl, she received no education at all – leaving her with the basic knowledge of survival and endurance. Even though education is not prioritized for women, it is of high importance for men. “Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately” (Hosseini 271). As a dominant leader within a family, the father must have the proper education to earn a living and support the family. This prioritization of men’s education over women’s was demonstrated when there were 236 school-related attacks on female schools in Afghanistan in 2007. In addition to this, several schoolgirls and teachers of these schools have been continuously subjected to acid attacks by Taliban members. In August 2010, blood tests proved that the mysterious mass sicknesses spread throughout several Afghan girls’ schools were caused by powerful poison gas.

All in all, the social ideologies within a society – whether dealing with gender preference, race, and other influential factors – contribute greatly to the individual’s role in society. In the field of social ideology of the Taliban, it is proven that by the gender-discriminating laws and regulations, women are unequal to men in society in a sense that they are harshly affected by the Taliban rule.



1. Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. London: Bloomsbury, 2007. Print.


2. Walsh, Declan. “Taliban Hand out 37 Lashes to Girl Seen with Married Man | World News | Guardian.co.uk.” Latest News, Comment and Reviews from the Guardian | Guardian.co.uk. Guardian, 2 Apr. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/02/taliban-pakistan-justice-women-flogging>.

3. Author Unknown. “I. The Taliban’s War Against Women.” U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 17 Nov. 2001. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/6185.htm>.

4. Author Unknown. “A Woman Among Warlords ~ Women’s Rights in the Taliban and Post-Taliban Eras | Wide Angle | PBS.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. PBS, 11 Sept. 2007. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/a-woman-among-warlords/womens-rights-in-the-taliban-and-post-taliban-eras/66/>.

5. Colven, Marie. “Girls’ School Defies Taliban Terror – Times Online.” The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion. The Times, 4 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7086704.ece>.

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