KABUL -- The Taliban's abduction of three females in Ghazni Province this month reflects the militant group's continuing campaign to oppress women and violate their rights, activists say.
The Taliban, who have already imposed limitations on female teachers and schoolgirls in the region, kidnapped the women in two separate incidents, according to local authorities.
"Taliban fighters attacked a house late at night on April 10 in Maidanak village, Qarabagh District, Ghazni Province, and abducted one woman and beat the rest of her family," Mohammad Arif Noori, a spokesman for the Ghazni governor, told Salaam Times.
"One day before this incident, Atiqullah, one of the Taliban commanders, dragged two women -- who were travelling from Kabul to Herat on the Kabul-Kandahar highway near Qarabagh District -- from a bus and abducted them," he said.
"A brawl broke out between the Taliban and the bus passengers when they were taking the women," Noori said.
The abductions are just another example of the Taliban's efforts to harass and abuse women, often with "impunity", said Noori.
"During the past few years the Taliban have sexually harassed women, and when the public learned about these incidents, it imposed Sharia-based punishments on the women and overlooked the crimes of the Taliban members," he said.
"Their [the Taliban's] own members lived with impunity," Noori said. "Most of the Taliban fighters are involved in the harassment cases, but civilians are not raising their voices because they want to protect the women's reputation."
In some other parts of Ghazni, the Taliban have even punished women who talked to men on the phone, Noori added.
"Most of the Taliban commanders and their junior unit leaders have two or three wives whom they have married against the women's will -- and in order to protect these women's reputation, we haven't disclosed anything about these cases to the media," he said.
'Inhumane and un-Islamic'
Women experience few problems in Ghazni city, but insecurity in some districts of the province has resulted in the closing of girls' schools by the Taliban, depriving them of a proper education, said Shukria Wali, director of the Ghazni provincial department of Women's Affairs.
"In districts that are insecure, it is feasible for insurgents to commit atrocities, and residents of those areas do not have access to government institutions where they can ask for justice," Wali said.
The moves against women by the Taliban marks the continuation of a decades-long effort to oppress women in Afghanistan, said Arefa Paikan, a civil society and women's-rights activist in Ghazni Province.
"During the past 18 years, the Taliban have imposed many limitations on women and girls in areas under their control," Paikan told Salaam Times.
In Taliban-controlled areas, "women can't get an education, and the Taliban have recently warned female teachers and students not to wear tight dresses or make-up," added Paikan.
"Abducting women and taking some of them hostage are a heinous crime of the Taliban," Paikan said. "This act of the Taliban shows that they still have the same extremist attitude toward women."
"There is no school in some of the areas that the Taliban control, and those few schools that were built have been repeatedly burned by the Taliban," she said. "In the past 18 years, almost no girl has graduated from school in areas the Taliban control."
"I once served as the principal of a Ghazni city school and was threatened with death or abduction several times by the Taliban," she added. "I told my students that they had to hide their books on their way to and from school for their safety."
The Taliban are denying women their fundamental rights, said Shafiq Ahmadi, a student at a Kabul private university.
"Getting educated, doing work, living in freedom and choosing your life partner are women's, human and Islamic rights," Ahmadi told Salaam Times. "The Taliban's abduction of women and their forcible marriages to women completely violate the teachings of Islam, the law and Afghan traditions."
That sentiment was echoed by Rukhshana, a student attending a school in Kabul city.
"Islam has given equal rights to men and women," Rukhshana told Salaam Times. "The Taliban have violated Afghan women's civil rights."