Afghan women dress in colorful clothes in ‘struggle for identity’ | Women’s News

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An online campaign with hashtags such as #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture criticizes the dress code under the Taliban regime.

Afghan youth rights activist Wazhma Sayle said she was shocked to see a photo online, apparently of women in niqabs and wraparound black dresses, holding a protest in support of the country’s new Taliban leadership at the University of Kabul.

The 36-year-old, based in Sweden, then posted a photo of herself on Twitter wearing a bright green and silver dress with the caption: “This is Afghan culture and how we dress! Anything less than that doesn’t represent Afghan women!

“It’s a fight for our identity,” Sayle said in a telephone interview.

“I don’t want to be identified as the Taliban has shown me, I can’t tolerate it. These clothes, when I wear them, speak of where I come from.

Other Afghan women abroad posted similar photos, striking a chord in Kabul.

“At least they are able to tell the world that we Afghan women do not support the Taliban,” said Fatima, a 22-year-old living in the Afghan capital.

“I can’t post pictures like that or wear that kind of clothes here anymore. If I did, the Taliban would kill me.

A woman poses in traditional Afghan attire, in Stavanger, Norway [Sophia Moruwat/via Reuters]

Many women said they believed the so-called protest, which appeared on social media and Western media, was organized and that several people dressed in black burqas from head to toe were men.

Reuters news agency said it had not verified the authenticity of the footage.

“It’s good that our (overseas) women were able to protest about this,” said Khatima, another young woman in Kabul. “The reality is that the burqa is not representative of women in Afghanistan.”

When the Taliban were in power two decades ago, women had to cover themselves from head to toe. Those who broke the rules were sometimes humiliated and beaten by the Taliban religious police.

A woman poses in traditional Afghan attire, in Kabul, Afghanistan [Dr Bahar Jalali/via Reuters]

While the new Taliban regime has promised to grant more freedoms to women, it has been reported that women have been banned from going to work and some have been beaten in recent weeks for protesting against the Taliban regime.

Universities have installed curtains inside classrooms to separate men and women.

The online campaign with hashtags such as #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture began when US-based Afghan historian Bahar Jalali tweeted criticizing the black clothes worn by university protesters.

“No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan. It’s totally foreign and foreign to Afghan culture, ”she said.

A woman poses in traditional Afghan attire, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands [Sadaf Qutbyar/via Reuters]

Jalali then posted a photo of herself wearing a green dress with the caption “This is Afghan culture” and urged others to post as well. Dozens of women have done it.

“We don’t want the Taliban to dictate what Afghan women are,” said Lema Afzal, a 25-year-old Afghan student in Belgium.

Afzal, born in Afghanistan under the first Taliban regime which lasted from 1996 to 2001, said she was horrified when she saw the photo of the protesters dressed in black.

Her mother had worn the long blue burqa dresses imposed on women at the time and had difficulty breathing or seeing under them, she said.

“The photo made me fear that history will repeat itself. My mother’s family didn’t cover their heads at all in the 70s and 80s, when we wanted to wear miniskirts in Afghanistan.

A woman poses in traditional Afghan attire, in Stockholm, Sweden [Wazhma Sayle/via Reuters]

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