Women protesting in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to demand rights to work and education were pepper sprayed by Taliban forces on Sunday.
The women congregated outside Kabul University, chanting “equality and justice” and carrying banners that read “women’s rights, human rights.”
The demonstrations were also demanding the release of Alia Azizi, an Afghan policewoman and the manager of the Herat Prison, who has been missing since last October, as well as justice for Zainab Abdullahi, a girl who was shot dead by the Taliban at a police checkpoint in Kabul last week.
One protester said that when the women approached Kabul University, “…three Taliban vehicles came, and fighters from one of the vehicles used pepper spray on us.”
“My right eye started to burn. I told one of them: ‘Shame on you,’ and then he pointed his gun at me.”
Protesters claimed that one woman was taken to hospital after the spray caused a severe allergic reaction in her eyes and face.
According to one AFP journalist on the scene, a Taliban fighter confiscated a mobile phone from a person who was seen filming the demonstration.
Since the Taliban seized control of the country by force on August 15 last year, the Islamist group have imposed increasing restrictions on Afghans, especially on women, including denying female public sector employees from working, not permitting many high school-aged female students to return to school, segregating university classes by gender and banning unsanctioned protests.
In the past few months, several groups have attempted to escape the country, including the country’s women’s national soccer team, the women’s taekwondo team, and media personnels, including journalist Beheshta Arghand, who became the first female news anchor to appear on television to interview a representative of the Taliban last September.