The Taliban has replaced staff for the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program at the Women’s Affairs Ministry with the Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
The Taliban-run education ministry asked boys from grades 7-12 to return to school along with their male teachers. There was no mention of girls in those grades returning to school. The Taliban’s minister of higher education had previously said that girls would be given equal access to education, in gender-segregated programs.
During the Taliban's rule in the 1990s, they denied girls and women the right to education and barred them from public life.
Suraj, an Afghan American who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 in an effort to promote women’s rights and education, has been trying to engage with the Taliban. She said, "We have to talk. We have to find a middle ground." Many of her fellow activists have already left the country.
LGBTQ Afgani Rabia Balkhi grew up in a free Afghanistan. Now she is in hiding with her family, along with many others from the LGBTQ community. She said, "The situation gets worse every day. Fear of arrest is part of life now and I have such stress that I can't even sleep. The Taliban have exact information about every family here."
A pregnant California woman, identified only as Nasria, who was left behind in Afghanistan safely fled from the country. It was reported that she "braved beatings and harassment by the Taliban."
Nasria said, "Apparently they’re going door-to-door. Trying to see if anybody has a blue passport. It was so hard to get on a flight. There were a couple of days where we had to sleep on streets. People were literally stepping over people. That’s how bad it was."
Hasan, a gay man, received a phone call from an unknown number. When Hasan asked who was calling, a man's voice replied, "Do not talk too much, we will find you wherever you are."
A former advocate for LGBTQ rights in Afghanistan, Hilal said men came around to his family's house looking for him after Kabul fell. He said, "They made threats to my brother, and they said to him that if I return home, they will kill me. We are LGBT. It is not our fault. It has been written as such in my destiny, in my spirit. No one can change this."
The Taliban claims they will be tolerant, but in July, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality; stoning or being crushed under a wall. A Taliban spokesman said they had no official plans for their LGBTQ population yet. He said, "When there is anything I will keep you updated."
Sexual relations between people of the same gender was illegal and punishable by up to two years in jail under the previous Afghani government. Although the laws were not always enforced.
The U.S. State Department reported in 2020 that LGBTQ people faced "discrimination, assault and rape" as well as harassment and arrest by authorities in Afghanistan. "Homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent." Under the Taliban's interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality can be punishable by death.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan says he has initiated talks with the Taliban to encourage an inclusive government that would ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. He said, "After meetings in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbours and especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan government to include Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks. After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace and a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well.”
Balkhi said, "I don't know if I can get out of here, but I know I can't live here with this situation." Those left behind said they feel abandoned by the international community.