Afghan Women Post Selfies in Colorful Dresses to Protest Taliban Dress Codes: 'Do Not Touch My Clothes'
To protest a Taliban-mandated dress code that reportedly requires female students, teachers and school employees to cover up and wear black in the classroom and on campuses, Afghan women around the world are sharing photos of themselves in much more colorful garb.
It's a social media-driven demonstration to show off another side of Afghan culture that the Taliban cannot so easily ignore, these women say.
"This is Afghan culture. I am wearing a traditional Afghan dress," Dr. Bahar Jalali wrote on Twitter to caption of photo of herself in a shiny green dress with colorful trim and flowery top. "I am wearing a traditional Afghan dress."
Jalali, whose Twitter bio says she is a historian and "Founder of the First Gender Studies Program in Afghanistan," also tweeted in response to a photo of a woman completely covered — including gloves on her hands — in all black.
"No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan," she wrote. "This is utterly foreign and alien to Afghan culture. I posted my pic in the traditional Afghan dress to inform, educate, and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban."
According to CNN, the Twitter trend was sparked after a photo emerged of female students in all black waving Taliban flags in a classroom at a university in Kabul, the capital.
The Taliban returned to power last month as the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan — ending a 20-year war there on Aug. 31 — prompting concerns that the regime would strip away freedoms of Afghans and especially women as they did from 1996 until 2001.
"Our women are Muslim. They will also be happy to be living within our frameworks of Sharia [Islamic law]," a Taliban spokesman said last month even as he insisted the group would be more moderate than feared.
Refugees have fled the country, with more than 23,000 arriving in the U.S. alone.
"This is how we dress, period!" Fatima Murchal wrote on Twitter alongside a selfie that shows her long, intricately designed dress in black, red, gold and a green head scarf.
Dr. Fatima Kakkar, whose Twitter bio says she resides in Montreal, shared a photo of nine women and girls in brilliant, bright dresses and wrote, "Proudly wearing in our traditional, colourful, vibrant Afghan clothes."
"At the end of the day, it comes down to the ability to choose themselves what Afghan women get to wear that is being stripped away by being FORCED to adopt the black niqab as women's clothing," user @Deeebsters wrote as part of the #DoNotTouchMyClothes Twitter trend to show off gorgeously made, flowing gowns of bold colors.
"THIS is traditional Afghan clothing NOT the niqab."