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Afghanistan: One year under Taliban rule

Women and children suffer under Islamic law

An Afghan man and woman carry their children as they walk past a market in Kabul on July 20. Getty Images/Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP

Afghanistan: One year under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters and other Afghans gathered at Kabul’s Shah Massoud square for a spontaneous rally on Monday—one year since the Taliban’s return to power. They raised their guns and chanted in celebration. Similar celebrations occurred throughout Kabul, including outside the former U.S. Embassy, where the fighters raised weapons and waved white flags, chanting, “Long live Islam,” and, “Death to America.”

A year ago, heavily armed Taliban fighters entered Kabul and took control of the abandoned presidential palace. In a message broadcast on Monday, Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi celebrated the anniversary and touted the government’s “great achievements,” including claims of ending corruption and better security.

The return to power of hardline Islamists has brought economic difficulties and a renewed crackdown on women. About 46 percent of Afghan girls are not attending school compared to 20 percent of boys, according to a report by Save the Children. It cited economic challenges and the Taliban’s ban on girls attending secondary school as key barriers.

A group known as Women Leaders of Afghanistan said Taliban officials told them to send in résumés of their male relatives who can apply for their jobs. The majority of them worked at Afghanistan’s Revenue Directorate before the Taliban ordered them to leave last August. “I worked with so much difficulty for more than 17 years to get this job and finish my master’s degree,” one of the women told the BBC. “Now we are back to zero.” On Saturday, Taliban fighters fired guns into the air and beat female protesters who were chanting “bread, work, and freedom” in a rare rally.

The World Food Program reports that 18.9 million people, nearly half of Afghanistan’s population, acutely lack access to food. Since the Taliban takeover, Western nations cut off aid and imposed sanctions. Many Afghans now rely on aid groups to meet their food needs.

Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s country director, called for a greater response from global community leaders. “If they don’t provide immediate humanitarian funding and find a way to revive the banking system and support the spiraling economy, children’s lives will be lost, and more boys and girls will lose their childhoods to labor, marriage, and rights violations,” he said.

World radar

AUSTRALIA: Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly held additional ministerial posts during his tenure, his successor confirmed on Tuesday. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Morrison appointed himself the joint minister of health, finance, treasury, home affairs, and resource between March 2020 and May 2021. Some Cabinet ministers, including then–finance minister Mathias Cormann, said they were unaware they were sharing portfolios—areas of responsibility—with Morrison. His covert appointments came to light as News Corp Australia journalists revealed their findings last weekend. Morrison claims the centralization of powers was “necessary” in “extraordinary times” as Australia grappled with the pandemic. Morrison is resisting calls to resign from Parliament.

CHINA: Shanghai will reopen all classrooms from kindergarten to high school on Sept. 1, authorities announced Sunday. China’s most populous city shut down all schools in mid-March as it faced its worst COVID-19 outbreak. Schools have since gradually reopened, but students and teachers must first undergo 14 days of “self-health management.” They will also take daily COVID-19 tests before leaving campus. Meanwhile, Shanghai continues to impose flash lockdowns where positive cases or their close contacts are detected. On Saturday, Ikea shoppers tried to break through health officials’ attempt to lock down the Xuhui district furniture store after confirming a customer had close contact with a COVID-19 patient.

INDIA: Eleven Hindu men were released on Monday from serving life sentences for gang-raping then-pregnant Bilkis Bano and murdering several family members, including her 3-year-old daughter. Their crimes were part of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots. The state government of Gujarat approved the convicts’ remission application after they served 14 years of their sentences. Indian law allows some prisoners to be freed after that duration. Bano has appealed to the government to revoke the “unjust” release. Critics also see the release as an insult to Indian Muslims who already feel marginalized under the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

ALGERIA: Firefighters battled about 40 different blazes this week in the North African nation. Authorities and local media say the fires have killed at least 38 people and injured at least 200 others with burns or respiratory problems. Forest fires break out annually in Algeria’s northern region amid hot winds. Fires last year killed at least 90 people and sparked calls for better equipment, including firefighting aircraft. Authorities in France are also battling record fires this year as parts of Europe face an unprecedented drought.

KENYA: Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 77, who lost last Tuesday’s presidential election, is rejecting Deputy President William Ruto’s win and will likely challenge the election result in court. Ruto, 55, secured 50.5 percent of the vote, while Odinga had 48.8 percent, officials announced on Monday. Ruto ran as the “hustler” against the Kenyan political dynasty that Odinga represents. Odinga has run for president unsuccessfully four times previously.  Four of the seven electoral commissioners also refused to endorse the result, claiming the vote count was “opaque.”

I spoke with a Kenyan national who works in the Odinga government—WORLD agreed to withhold her name to protect her job—and she said it’s difficult to tell right now whether Ruto’s win will be good for the country. But she hoped the newly elected leaders will focus on tackling the high cost of living and the high unemployment rate as the country faces economic challenges from COVID-19. Despite the divisive election, the church has fostered unity by encouraging Christians to maintain peace and praying for their nation, she noted.

Joyce Wu, WORLD Asia correspondent, contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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