Female Artists Respond to Taliban Insurrection in Afghanistan

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Three brave Afghan women resist on social media. 

Student Commentary

By Ananda Naves-Penkwitt / Contributor

Imagine hiding in your home for fear of being beaten in the streets. Imagine being denied an education halfway through working for a degree. Imagine being forced to quit your job. This is the reality for women in Afghanistan today. With the return of Taliban Rule in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, women stand to lose years of work on regaining their human rights since the last time the militant group gained power.  

They aren’t letting it happen without a fight.   

It was August 15, the day that the Taliban, a religious militant group, claimed control over Kabul. This comes weeks after President Ashraf Ghani abdicated his role and weeks before the United States pulled its troops out of Afghanistan. 

“I feel we are like a bird who makes a nest for a living and spends all the time building it, but then suddenly and helplessly watches others destroy it,”

said Zarmina Kakar, a women’s rights activist based in Afghanistan,
when speaking with the Associated Press.

The situation is so dire that women are scared to even leave their homes. As of Friday Sept. 17, the Taliban have banned girls from a secondary education.  

Considering some Afghan artists have already deleted social media and taken down their activist works, artists Shamsia Hassani, Rada Akkbar, and Lida Afghan display their bravery in maintaining the use of their art for a feminist cause. 

Shamsia Hassani 

Shamsia Hassani is the first local female graffiti artist based in Afghanistan. She is not only an artist but also a lecturer at Kabul University. She depicts strong women capable of change and compassion in her work. She depicts proud women who shine hope and appreciation to all women in a male-dominated society. Hassani began painting on the streets of Afghanistan putting herself in danger to make her works more accessible.   

Most of her posts have gone viral in the past few weeks as a protest against what the Taliban rule means for women in the country.  

In these images posted three days apart, the first posted a day after the Taliban took over, a woman is depicted pleading hopefully and facing the Taliban head on.   

In the next photo posted a few days later, the same woman is shown in a position of defeat.   

The post below portrays how the Taliban have been silencing the voices of women as one of her public artworks have since been painted over by the religious militant group. 

Rada Akkbar 

Rada Akkbar is an Afghan visual artist and photographer. She fled Kabul but not before taking self-portraits in order to communicate the situation she was living in. She uses her art to document the world around her, especially bringing to light the views of women and children in her home country. More recently, she continues to share photographs taken of the daily lives of children and especially young girls in Kabul. 

These young girls should not be forgotten. 

Lida Afghan 

Lida Afghan is an artist originally from Afghanistan but is now based in Denmark. She continues to share her work depicting real life situations in Afghanistan with a focus on women’s struggles. She posts a message of defiance against the Taliban. 

Afghan also calls for the unity and resistance of Afghan women. 

With fears of girls and women being restricted from obtaining an education as well as fears of their education being limited to only religious teachings, Afghan comments on the dire situation by depicting a female student and her basic human rights. 

Each of these women bravely stand up to the Taliban regardless of the danger it puts them in, in the ways they best know how: through art. These women shine a light of hope and help spread awareness to the horrifying reality women in Afghanistan still face today. 

Through art, and in this case, social media, voices can be amplified, and abstract emotion can be translated visually, touching the hearts and reaching people in a more personal way.