Kabul – Payk, July 27, 2021
Reporter: Fatema Amani
With the murmurs of the Taliban’s return, not only the presence of women wearing chadari (burqa) has become more visible but the price of chadari in the capital city’s markets has also increased threefold compared to last year.
A number of women who choose to wear chadari in Kabul believe that everyone knows about the Taliban’s terror and misogyny now. For this reason they need to buy a chadari already, before facing any risks and threats from the members of this group.
The burqas made inside the country, which are also known as Mazari and Herati, Pakistani, Chinese, etc., are sold as wholesale and retail in Kabul’s markets for prices ranging from 500 Afghanis for the cheapest ones to 2,500 Afghanis the most expensive ones.
Shabir Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Kabul’s Mandayee bazar, who claims that he has for decades been selling burqas, abayas, and hijabs for women, told Payk reporter:
“Recently, the demand for chadari has increase than the veils, abayas, and hijabs, almost 80% of our daily sales are just burqas.”
He adds that the best chadari used to sell for 800 Afghanis before the spring of this year, but now it is sold for 2,500 Afghanis. According to him, the reasons for this change and increase in the supply and demand of the chadari in Kabul’s markets are the rising exchange rate of the USD, the escalation of violence in the country and talk of the Taliban’s return to the government.
However, a number of working women are even swear that they will not put on the chadari a headscarf under no circumstances even the Taliban’s tyranny.
Sakina Sherzad, a private school teacher and a resident of Kabul’s district four, says:
“I will continue to wear the same outfit to work, even if the Taliban are in power. It is my right.”
On the other hand, Zarmina, a resident of Kabul’s district 11, although she says that she doesn’t have the experience of wearing a chadari, has a different opinion on the matter. She jokingly points to the mask on her face and says: “the same way that the coronavirus made us to wear masks, we will prevent the Talib virus too with the chadari.”
However, Sharifa, who wears chadari and has been recently displaced to Kabul from her home in Logar province due to insecurity and war, says that she was born and raised in a burqa-wearing family, so she’d wear the chadari even without the Taliban forcing her to do so.
Something that according to Shahla Farid, a Kabul University professor and a legal and political expert, is not directly forced by the Taliban but is influenced by the Taliban system, that has created a troubled, deprived and confined to the walls of home type of an individual.
Ms. Farid adds that confining women to the inside of the home literally means killing women’s spirit. And all this is also against the constitution of the country and international human rights conventions, and is unacceptable by half of the population of the country, the women.
Laila Noorani, a civil society and media activist, emphasizes on the fundamental rights and the Afghan women’s gains of the past 20 years, says that any kind of limitations on women’s legal right and going backwards is impossible in any government.
Although some people attribute the history of chadari in Afghanistan to the British colonial period during which it was brought from India to Afghanistan, and some attribute it to time when Islam was brought to Afghanistan from the Arabian peninsula, and some have attributed it to the country’s culture of several thousand years, but according to some religious scholars, wearing a chadari is not compulsory or an obligation in Islam.
According to religious scholar Maulana Bahruddin Jawzjani, if a women has an adequate Islamic outfit then there is no obligation to wear chadari or any other type of hijab, and the belief that it is an obligation also comes back to the person’s lack of religious knowledge.
Optimism and pessimism about the revival of the chadari and return of the Taliban are expressed in a time when officials from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) recently raised concerns over the closure of schools and educational institutions, as well as assassinations, torture and imposition of strict and aggressive rules on civilians, in the Taliban-controlled districts.
Zabihullah Farhang, the spokesperson for the AIHRC, says that based on the recent findings of this institution, in the districts that have recently fell in the hands of the Taliban, they have imposed strict, regressive rules on women such as wearing chadari and not being allowed to leave the house without a close male relative (Mahram).
According to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), while criticizing the Taliban’s negotiation team for not having at least a female member, nothing has changed regarding how the Taliban sees the women in the past 20 years.
Ms. Kubra Rezaiee, the spokesperson for the MoWA, concerned about the current situation, especially women putting on chadari fear of the risks posed by the Taliban, says that if women’s rights and freedoms are not taken into account and the current limitations and restrictions are not lifted in the Taliban-held areas, Afghan women will once again be deprived of their rights and freedoms and will be forced inside the walls of their homes.