Expert explains what Taliban takeover could mean for women in Afghanistan

Afghan women have made major gains in the past several decades, but now many fear that the organization’s takeover could mean a severe rollback of rights - something humans rights activists say the country has not seen it since the 1990s.  

"People are so afraid because they absolutely understand what's going to happen to them," says Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, a University Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota.   

Aoláin also serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights and has worked throughout the Middle East. She says the recent actions of the Taliban are why she’s deeply concern for the safety of women despite the organization’s recent news conference committing to women’s rights.  

She says before the Taliban took over, many women were able to work and go to school. But all that has changed and many women are now hiding because they’re afraid they could be killed if they don’t follow the organization’s laws.  

"The role of a woman and the idea of the status of the woman is that the woman is lesser than the man," Ní Aoláin adds.  "A woman has no rights in society but only obligations to her family and to her husband."  

She says the Taliban is enforcing "stone age" laws by requiring women to wear a burqa, clothing that completely covers the face and body.

Ní Aoláin worries that if a woman is seen without the cover or is seen walking outside without a male relative, she will be punished by death.

"This is an organization that kills with impunity, tortures with disregard has no understanding of the most basic of rights that we take for granted," she says.