WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: A graphic photo of what is believed to be a woman who was shot and killed by the Taliban for not wearing a burqa has sparked global fear for the safety of Afghan people.
The image of a woman lying in a pool of blood on the ground as her parents crouch beside her was published by Fox News on Wednesday (local time), the same day the Taliban vowed to respect women’s rights.
The publication reported the woman had been killed in Taloqan, Takhar province, because she left her home without wearing a burqa.
The image appears to have first been shared on social media on August 9 when two Afghan lawmakers from Takhar confirmed its capital, Taleqan, had fallen to the Taliban. A source for the image has yet to be confirmed.
More than a week later the Taliban vowed on Tuesday (local time) to honour women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law.
The promise was made by Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime spokesman, in his first public appearance. He did not elaborate on his comments.
The Taliban have encouraged women to return to work and have allowed girls to return to school, handing out Islamic headscarves at the door. A female news anchor interviewed a Taliban official Monday in a TV studio.
Girls reportedly lashed for wearing 'revealing sandals'
When the fundamentalist group ruled the country for five years until the 2001 US-led invasion, girls were forbidden from working or receiving an education. Women were also not allowed to travel outside of their homes without a male relative to accompany them.
The Taliban also carried out public executions, chopped off the hands of thieves and stoned women accused of adultery.
There have been no confirmed reports of such extreme measures in areas the Taliban fighters recently seized. But militants were reported to have taken over some houses and set fire to at least one school.
At a park in Kabul, transformed since last week into a shelter for the displaced, families told the Associated Press on Friday girls riding home in a motorised rickshaw in the northern Takhar province were stopped and lashed for wearing “revealing sandals".
A schoolteacher from the province said no one was allowed to go out to the market without a male escort.
Marianne O’Grady, Kabul-based deputy country director for CARE International, said the strides made by women over the past two decades have been dramatic, particularly in urban areas, adding she cannot see things going back to the way they were, even with a Taliban takeover.
“You can’t uneducate millions of people,” she said.
If women “are back behind walls and not able to go out as much, at least they can now educate their cousins and their neighbours and their own children in ways that couldn’t happen 25 years ago".
Still, a sense of dread appears to be omnipresent as Taliban forces take more territory each day.
“I feel we are like a bird who makes a nest for a living and spends all the time building it, but then suddenly and helplessly watches others destroy it,” Zarmina Kakar, a 26-year-old women’s rights activist in Kabul, said.
Gunshots heard during live TV cross
On Tuesday, the Taliban entered the civilian half of Kabul airport, firing into the air to drive out around 500 people desperately flee the Afghanistan capital after the takeover of the Taliban.
The Taliban appeared to be trying to control the crowd rather than prevent people from leaving, CNN's Clarissa Ward said while delivering a live cross from a street less than 200 metres from where chaotic scenes continue to unfold.