Updated Sep 4, 2021 - World

Taliban violently break up women's protest in Kabul

A group of women stage a rally calling on the Taliban to ensure women's rights.
A group of women stage a rally calling on the Taliban to ensure women's rights in Afghan society in Kabul on Sept. 4. Photo: Bilal Guler/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Taliban special forces used tear gas, rifle butts and metal clubs to break up a protest in Kabul on Saturday led by Afghan women demanding equal rights, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Several of the women participating in Saturday's women's march — the second in two days — told the Times they were beaten by Taliban fighters.

  • "When I tried to resist and continue the march, one of the armed Taliban pushed me and hit me with a sharp metal device,” a woman whose first name is Nargis told the Times.
  • The march began peacefully, with protesters placing a wreath outside Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry to honor Afghan soldiers who died fighting the Taliban, the Associated Press reports.
  • As protesters marched toward the presidential palace, their calls grew louder as they demanded human rights from Taliban leaders.
  • When the group neared the presidential palace, however, a dozen Taliban special forces officers entered into the crowd and fired shots into the air and used other tools to suppress the protest.

The big picture: The Taliban have offered vague assurances that their leadership changed, saying that girls can go to school and women can go to work, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

  • But many Afghans, particularly women, are skeptical of the Taliban's promises and worry that the group will return to the tight grip under which it ruled in the 1990s, when women's freedoms were restricted and other human rights were limited.

What they're saying: "They pushed everybody away and forced us to leave while chasing us with their spray, weapons and metal devices," Nargis said. "The Taliban kept cursing, using abusive language."

  • Farhat Popalzai, a 24-year-old university student, said she demonstrated for the women who may be too afraid to protest.
  • "I am the voice of the women who are unable to speak," said Popalzai, per AP. "They think this is a man’s country but it is not, it is a woman’s country too."

Go deeper: What Taliban rule will look like in the new old Afghanistan

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details.

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