By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) - The Taliban-led interim government in Afghanistan banned forced marriages of women Friday in a significant development aimed at empowering Afghan women.
“Adult women's consent is necessary during Nekah/marriage,” Taliban supreme commander Hibatullah Akhunzada said in a special decree, asserting genders “should be equal.”
“No one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure,” he said.
The decree said a woman was not property, “but a noble and free human being; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for a peace deal or to end animosity.”
The Taliban leader said a widow also has the “right to heritage and fixed share in the property of her husband, children, father and relatives.”
“No one can deprive a widow of her right,” according to the decree.
He added those with multi wives “are obliged to give rights to all women in accordance with sharia law, and maintain justice between them.”
The announcement comes amid a looming humanitarian crisis that is exacerbated by billions of Afghan reserves that are blocked by the US after the exit of foreign forces in August.
Akhunzada asked the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs to “encourage scholars” to spread “awareness to the people about women’s rights” and the Ministry of Information and Culture to “publish articles related to women's rights through its means in writing and audio, as well as, encourage writers and activists to publish useful articles on women’s rights.”
The Taliban, however, is facing pressure from western countries regarding the education of girls.
Akhunzada asked the Supreme Court to issue instructions to courts to “consider the application for women’s rights.”