Taliban blocked unaccompanied women from flights

ISLAMABAD – Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers refused to allow dozens of women to board several flights, including some overseas flights, because they were traveling without a male guardian, two Afghan airline officials said on Saturday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of Taliban repercussions, said dozens of women who arrived at Kabul International Airport on Friday to board domestic and international flights were told not to do so without one male guardian could do.

According to one of the officers, some of the women were dual nationals returning to their homes abroad, including some from Canada. Women have been denied boarding on flights to Islamabad, Dubai and Turkey operated by Kam Air and state-owned Ariana Airline, officials said.

The order came from the Taliban leadership, an official said.

As of Saturday, some women traveling alone were given permission to board an Ariana Airlines flight to western Herat province, the official said. However, by the time approval was granted, they had missed their flight, he said.

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The airport’s president and police chief, both members of the Taliban movement and both Islamic clerics, met with airline officials on Saturday.

“They’re trying to solve it,” the officer said.

It was still unclear whether the Taliban would exempt air travel from an order issued months ago that required women traveling more than 72 kilometers to be accompanied by a male relative.

Taliban officials contacted by The Associated Press did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Since taking power last August, the Taliban leadership has been at odds among themselves as they struggle to transition from war to rule. It has pitted hardliners – like incumbent Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund, who is deeply rooted in the old guard – against the more pragmatic among them like Sirajuddin Haqqani. He inherited leadership of the powerful Haqqani network from his father, Jalaluddin Haqanni. The elder Haqqani, who died a few years ago, is from Akhund’s generation, which ruled Afghanistan under the strict and unchallenged leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar.

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Many Afghans are enraged to know that many of the younger generation of Taliban, such as Sirajuddin Haqqani, are raising their girls in Pakistan, while in Afghanistan, women and girls have been the target of their repressive enactments since coming to power.

This latest attack on women’s rights in Taliban-led Afghanistan, which denies women air travel, comes just days after the all-male, religiously-motivated government broke its promise to allow girls to return to school after sixth grade.

The move enraged the international community, which has been reluctant to recognize the Taliban-led government since the Taliban seized power last August, fearing they would return to their harsh rule of the 1990s. The Taliban’s refusal to open education to all Afghan children has also enraged large sections of the Afghan population. On Saturday, dozens of girls demonstrated in the Afghan capital for the right to go to school.

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After the Taliban banned girls from going to school beyond sixth grade, women’s rights activist Mahbouba Seraj asked Afghan TOLO TV: “How can we as a nation still trust your words? What should we do to please you? Should we all die?”

An Afghan charity called PenPath, which runs dozens of “secret” schools with thousands of volunteers, is planning nationwide protests to demand the Taliban reverse its order, said Matiullah Wesa, founder of PenPath.

On Saturday, Roya Mahboob, an Afghan businesswoman who founded an all-girls robotics team in Afghanistan, was presented with the Forum Award for her work and commitment to girls’ education at the Doha Forum 2022 in Qatar.

US special envoy for Afghanistan Tom West canceled meetings with the Taliban at the Doha Forum after classes for older girls were suspended.

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said in a statement: “We have canceled some of our commitments, including scheduled meetings in Doha and around the Doha Forum, and have made it clear that we view this decision as a potential turning point in see our commitment.

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“The Taliban’s decision, if not quickly reversed, will profoundly damage the Afghan people, the country’s prospects for economic growth and the Taliban’s ambition to improve its relations with the international community,” she said.

In an interview after receiving the Doha Forum award, Mahboob called on the many global leaders and policymakers attending the forum to urge the Taliban to open schools for all Afghan children.

The robotics team fled Afghanistan when the Taliban returned to power, but Mahboob said she still hopes a science and technology center she hopes to build in Afghanistan for girls can still be built.

“I hope that the international community, the Muslim communities, have (not) forgotten about Afghanistan and will not let us down,” she said. “Afghanistan is a poor country. It doesn’t have enough resources. And if you take (take away) our knowledge from us, I don’t know what will happen.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/03/26/officials-taliban-blocked-unaccompanied-women-from-flights/ Taliban blocked unaccompanied women from flights

Jaclyn Diaz

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