Afghanistan’s new Islamic government has banned forced marriages, and decreed that they will treat women equally, saying women should not be considered the “property” of anyone.
Taliban chief, Hibatullah Akhunzada, made the announcement on Friday. The decree says: “Both women and men should be equal. No one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure.”
The announcement comes amidst a rising economic crisis in the country which has consigned the vast majority of Afghans to poverty. The dire situation has arisen due to international governments freezing billions of dollars in Afghan Central Bank reserves, after the Taliban takeover of the country.
The international community has also cut off aid for Afghanistan thus manufacturing a humanitarian crisis. The Taliban leadership has made repeated requests to the U.S. and the international community to unfreeze their assets and allow the Taliban administration to run the government.
According to many reports, the future engagement of the international community with Afghanistan depends on the key issues of women’s rights and human rights.
Citing the new decree, Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said: “A woman is not a property, but a noble and free human being; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for peace or to end animosity.”
The decree also stated that widows will be allowed to re-marry and choose their husband freely, 17 weeks after their husband’s death. Traditionally, it was the custom in conservative Afghanistan for a widow to marry one of the relatives of her husband.
The decree did not cite a minimum age for marriage for girls which was earlier set at 16-years.
The Taliban leadership also said that they have asked government ministers to aggressively raise awareness about women’s rights and treat women fairly, with a special emphasis on widows seeking inheritance.
The decree also mentions property rights for women, and also stated that widows should have a share of the property left behind by her husband.