Taliban declare 'amnesty,' call on women to join government

The Taliban on Tuesday said they would grant amnesty for all Afghans and called on women to join government offices, an apparent move to gain support from local populations who remain fearful of a return to the restrictive laws against women and girls from the Taliban’s rule more than two decades ago. 

Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, explained that the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghanistan, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently,” according to The Associated Press

The Taliban official also said that women have been the “the main victims of the more than 40 years of crisis in Afghanistan” and that the insurgent group "doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore.” 

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“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different [government] structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values,” he added, the AP reported. 

The remarks are the first comments revealing how the Taliban intends to govern since the group’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan, culminating in Sunday’s fall of Kabul. 

The takeover, which came just two weeks before the U.S. was set to officially withdraw the remainder of its troops from Afghanistan, has led to widespread concerns among human rights groups and local populations that the expanded rights women and girls have gained in the country over the past 20 years could be quickly turned back under a new Taliban regime. 

The group previously governed under an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and prohibited women and girls from going to school, working or leaving their homes unless they were accompanied by a man. Women were also required to cover most of their bodies, including their faces, and were not allowed to drive. 

CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported Monday that women had already begun dressing more conservatively while walking outside their homes in Kabul.

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The AP reported Tuesday that a group of women in hijabs demonstrated briefly in Kabul Tuesday while holding signs calling on the Taliban to not “eliminate women” from public life, as the group is still engaged in negotiations with members of Afghanistan’s fallen government. 

U.S. lawmakers have also called for action to secure the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

“A failure to act now will seal their fate, and the generation of girls who grew up with freedoms, education and dreams of building their country’s future will die with them,” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers call for more resources to support early cancer detection MORE (D-N.H.) said in a statement Monday.