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Taliban in Afghanistan: What is Sharia law and what it means for women? – Times of India


NEW DELHI: A Taliban government in Kabul is no longer in doubt.
What remains unclear though- the extent to which the policies of the new government will mirror those of the previous Taliban regime. The insurgents have tried projecting themselves as reformed from their earlier avatar, but few are taking them at face value.
What legal system and penal provisions will the new Taliban adopt? Will Afghanistan see ‘refined’ Sharia laws, or will it be a throwback to the 1996-2001 days?
Justice under the Sharia a matter of ‘interpretation’
Sharia is a system of religious law drawn from the Koran and the hadiths- the words or actions of the Prophet Mohammed and subject to the interpretation of jurists, clerics and politicians.
Countries adhering to Sharia differ in their interpretations of laws and also in levels of conformity. How Sharia should be applied has been a subject of dispute between conservative and liberal Muslims, and it remains highly contested.
By some interpretations of certain verses in Koran, men are held superior to women; devout women are “obedient” and that if they persistently disobey, their male protectors, as a last resort, should “strike” or “beat” them.
For matters of finance and inheritance of property, the Koran specifies that a sister inherits half of her brother’s amount. Some scholars have argued that the difference in inheritance is balanced by the fact that men have the responsibility for financially supporting the women, elderly and young in the family.
According to another verse, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s.
Flogging, stoning and executions are permitted for heinous ‘sins’ for sexual misconduct, theft or murder.
The family of a murder victim can pardon a condemned person, often in exchange for blood money.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron-fist between 1996-2001, enforcing a strict and brutal version of Sharia. Women’s rights were abused, and extreme punishments were often carried out in full public glare, to instill fear in the minds.

What next for justice system Afghanistan?
Taliban appear to be projecting a softer image as they court legitimacy from outside powers. The have indicated a relaxation from their previously brutal interpretations of sharia.
They have assured that there will be no reprisals against those who had worked for US or Nato forces.
They have also assured safety for minorities and people of other nationalists.
Women will be allowed education and in work places, they have said. They will also be allowed rights and freedom ‘under Islamic laws,’ a Taliban spokesperson recently said.
And that is where the catch lies. What could be the Taliban’s interpretation of ‘Islamic laws’ is a matter of pure conjecture. And there are few to challenge.
The story since the takeover
Few are taking the Taliban’s assurances at face value, and for good reasons. Reports have emerged of attacks on people the insurgents are generally hostile towards.
Amnesty International said Taliban fighters tortured and killed 9 members of minority Hazara community after recently overrunning their village in Ghazni province.
Taliban fighters hunting a journalist from Deutsche Welle have shot dead a member of his family and severely injured another, the German public broadcaster said; three more of its journalists had their homes raided.
Another woman journalist was not allowed to join back work with the Afghan state broadcaster after the Taliban takeover.





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