Kandaharis grumble about Taliban-imposed curbs on civil society

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KANDAHAR: Taliban restrictions have led to decreased civil society activity in Kandahar province since the group came into power last year, while Kandahar residents have no way to voice their concerns as civil activists have lost the opportunities to function freely under the Taliban.


Rana Zarifi, a women’s rights activist and civil society leader, recalled how she had worked with many other activists to employ women in Kandahar and cooperated with the previous government to exercise gender equality.


She used to strive to facilitate education and employment for many women along with other civil society organizations that worked with women to promote, for instance, their export of handicrafts to markets for sale.  


According to the Kandahar Department of Justice’s past figures, around 142 civil society organizations, councils and unions were active in the province. Of them, 84 were councils and associations, and the rest were civil society outfits working in different fields.


Wali Muhammad, the head of Hodman Civil Organization, explains, “youth form the foundation of a society, and they work under the umbrella of the civil society to serve the people and provide them with equal opportunities.”


He emphasized the civil society activists’ role in Kandahar, saying they used to work with the government in the field of public awareness, as well as some cultural societies in the information and culture sphere, in addition to being an oversight over the government, particularly in development projects.


“The situation of civil society was good in the past, and our work was effective. Young people who had graduated from different departments would work with us, raising awareness among the people and finding solutions to the problems of the government institutions,” Wali Muhammad regrets.


About five of these civil institutions were active in the field of women, working to resolve issues facing women, fighting for their rights, and empowering them.