The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) demonstrating against the Taliban in 1998.

Read the article below and, as a group, discuss (i) how such laws might be seen as an extreme form of patriarchy (ii) how the daily life of a typical teenage girl in the UK would be different under such rules? What would her daily life consist of?

Carry out some research to find examples of patriarchy operating in different religions or religious groups (most will not be as extreme as the examples below). Pool your results and discuss how far patriarchy is still a significant force in religion today.

In 1996, a group of religious fighters called the Taliban took over Afghanistan and set up a fundamentalist government, based on an extreme form of orthodox Islam. A set of new laws was imposed on the population. There were many restrictions on daily life. For example, all men had to grow beards and wear turbans, while singing, dancing, playing cards, watching films and keeping birds were forbidden. However, there were many new laws that applied only to women. A few of these are listed below (the list of laws comes from ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini).

You will stay in your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram (a male relative). If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home.

You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.

  • Cosmetics are forbidden.
  • Jewellery is forbidden.
  • You will not wear charming clothes.
  • You will not speak unless spoken to.
  • You will not make eye contact with men.
  • You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.
  • You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.
  • Girls are forbidden from attending school.
  • Women are forbidden from working.
  • If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.