The Deputy of the Center for Strategic Studies in International Cultural Relations stated, “Masculism in Afghan society and Pashto-speaking areas, the instrumental view towards women, and the Taliban’s view of sin are nodal points in the Taliban’s discourse on women.”
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Deputy of the Center for Strategic Studies in International Cultural Relations stated, “Masculism in Afghan society and Pashto-speaking areas, the instrumental view towards women, and the Taliban’s view of sin are nodal points in the Taliban’s discourse on women.”
On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the meeting of the “Taliban Discourse System on the Issue of Women” was held by the Department of Women of International University of AhlulBayt (a.s.), and Mojtaba Norouzi, Deputy of the Center for Strategic Studies in International Cultural Relations, addressed the meeting.
“One of the serious indicators in the conflict between tradition and modernity, as well as to understanding where a society is on the spectrum, is the way women are viewed,” he said, “Afghan society, while traditional, also has a social divide, and especially in the last twenty years, particularly in the urban society of the country, these gaps have increased.”
“When other gaps, such as urban and rural gaps, are examined in Afghanistan, or even ethnic gaps are studied, it is concluded that there are different atmospheres exist in Afghan cities, such as Mazar-e-Sharif or Herat or Kabul. Therefore, there is no integrity in the country, even in Kabul itself. For example, the further you go from east to west of Kabul, the more women’s social presence is seen, and this shows the social divide in the country,” added Deputy of the Center for Strategic Studies in International Cultural Relations.
Reasons for the importance of examining the Taliban’s view of women
“For the past twenty years, this has been one of the topics on which Afghan society has sought to break the norm. Today, it is seen that in all the talks and meetings that take place about Afghanistan, one of the agendas is the issue of women,” he continued, pointing to the importance of examining the issue because there is a special global perspective on the issue of women.
“If we accept that the focus of political debates is power, the issue of women in Afghanistan has changed from a social and cultural issue to a political issue,” Dr. Norouzi pointed out, “When it comes to empowering an ideology, the issue of women will still be a public issue, and this is rooted in the efforts of the last twenty years, as well as the experience before the Taliban government. Therefore, this issue is raised today as one of the Achilles heels of the Taliban.”
Since applying discourse view on the social sciences, because of its flexibility it has sought to put aside the rigid views of the past, and to offer a more flexible, complete, and multifaceted understanding. In understanding phenomena in the social sciences, we often encounter inherent reductionism. Therefore, we have to remove some variables to understand, for example, the Taliban’s view of women in society,” he said.
The importance of examining the Taliban from the identity perspective
“There are serious complications in defining the Taliban. Because when it comes to the Taliban, it must be clear which level of the Taliban is in question,” this expert on Afghanistan issues said, considering the identity of the Taliban as one of the other important issues.
“The Taliban can be considered a political movement, and by that definition, we are faced with an ideology that has 100,000 forces who have tried to play a role in the power games in Afghanistan as a political movement for the past thirty years,” he added, “Another view of the Taliban is that of the Americans. They equated all those who opposed the central government of Afghanistan with the Taliban. Of course, such a view was a strategic mistake and led to the Taliban regaining power.”
“Another definition of the Taliban that is very important is the identity of the Taliban, because this movement has an identity that has its own supporters in some parts of Afghanistan, and it was ignoring this identity that has led to many problems for Afghanistan over the past twenty years,” Dr. Norouzi continued.
“Another point is that the Taliban is not a homogeneous movement. This issue has various roots, one of which is the historical reasons that existed centuries before the formation of the Taliban in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan. There have been deep-rooted differences among them throughout history. We see that there have been even serious wars between them throughout history,” he mentioned.
“Another root cause of the Taliban’s inequality is ideologies that have joined the Taliban for their own interests and will naturally join rival movements if their interests are not served,” said Deputy of the Center for Strategic Studies in International Cultural Relations, “Another rift among the Taliban is the rift between the head and the body, as many Taliban leaders live in the best hotels in Dubai and so on. While the body of the group, over the past few decades, have been constantly at war and so-called jihad, and in fact have been field front. Therefore, when talking about the Taliban’s discourse on women, it should be borne in mind that this view is flexible and not uniform.”
Taliban view of women
“If we want to study the Taliban’s discourse on women, we have to look at its nodal points or central signifiers,” he said, “One of the signifiers is masculinism in Afghan society. The more you move from Persian-speaking to Pashto-speaking areas, the more patriarchal power there is. The Taliban, as a group from a specific geography where there are tribal views, therefore has a masculinist view and believes in the superiority of these traditions.”
“Even where Pashtunwali traditions conflict with religion, Pashtunwali traditions take precedence, and one of these issues is the view of women. While in the most strict Islamic definitions of women, we do not observe the same level of strictness that exists in the traditional Pashtunwali society, and unless there is a change in this issue, we will not see a lasting change in the Taliban’s view of the issue of women,” added the expert on Afghanistan affairs.
How to compete with the Taliban discourse?
“Another signifier in the Taliban discourse is the view of women as a tool that exists in the body of relations of this group,” he continued, “Even the type of legislation in the Taliban group reflects the instrumental view of this discourse towards women.”
“When we introduce the Taliban’s stance on sin, we conclude that most of their sensitivities are about sexual sins. They basically consider women as one of the sources and causes of corruption,” stated Dr. Norouzi, referring to the Taliban’s view of the sin, as other signifiers of the group.
“Their preferred society is one in which women are completely housewives and have no social appearance, and even if they leave home, they must abide the protocols announced by the Taliban,” he continued.
Responding to the question “how could a change happen?” he said, “Some believe the Taliban has changed, and some believe the group has not changed, and each has its own argument. The reason for such differences of opinion is that none of them have a macro view on the Taliban.”
I believe that the Taliban has not changed, because their discourse has not changed yet. Even if superficial changes have occurred at some points, they cannot be permanent. However, in the long run it may lead to a change in their approach. Therefore, we have to compete with the Taliban discourse by the pressures that lead to the destruction of their discourse structure, and presenting a discourse that can compete,” he concluded.