Recently, the death of Afghani volleyball player, Mahjabin Hakimi, has received international publicity and has sparked outrage against the Taliban and their new governance. She had originally been declared a missing person but it has been found, through statements from her coach and pictures on the internet, that her family was held under duress and threats of violence from the Taliban to hide the beheading of Hakimi. Graphic pictures on the internet have shown blade or ligature marks surrounding her neck. Hakimi, an up-and-coming volleyball player in the Kabul Municipality Volleyball Club, is a victim of the Taliban’s goals of completely eliminating women’s sports and other activities that violate the Taliban’s doctrines. These actions and pictures posted on the Taliban’s social media pages are the most recent upset to the international community and continue to call for support from those in the country as well as increased international attention and assistance in removing those seen as threatened by the Taliban’s new leadership. The Italian Volleyball Federation held a minute of silence in remembrance of Hakimi and FIFA has worked to remove 57 sports players from the hostile country. Additionally, Qatar, Australia, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Albania have taken in refugees threatened because of their prominent positions in sports in Afghanistan.
The tragic murder of Hakimi is symbolic of the barbaric practices of the Taliban and makes it clear that these practices remain regardless of the empty promises of civility that the Taliban is promulgating to the rest of the world. After the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15th, the organization—known for its egregious acts of violence and hostility towards minority groups and women—promised to reform and create fair and equal treatment across tumultuous Afghanistan. Since the takeover of the capital city of Kabul and the containment of the rest of the country, the Taliban leadership has reorganized into the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and promised to refrain from their former practices and join the international community as an equal partner; though it seems that old habits die hard.
Despite promising statements of a progressive future to the international community, the Taliban has continued to take action against the advancement of women and minority groups and has reverted to many of the policies and ideologies that they ruled with in the 1990s. For example, Taliban leadership has recently removed the Afghanistan Women’s Ministry created by the U.S.-backed Afghani government and replaced it with the all-male Vice and Virtue Department. The Vice and Virtue Department is reminiscent of a department run by the extremist government in the late 90s. This former department was known for its strict enforcement of religious doctrine and severe social policies often associated with extremist leadership and rule. In addition to the creation of this socially compromising section of government, the Taliban released a statement early in their takeover saying that “all male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions.” This statement clearly does not align with the new leadership’s supposed intentions to enforce fair educational opportunities. Taliban leadership went on to close women’s schools and other educational institutions, ban women’s sports and not allow women to return to the advanced jobs they had earned under the U.S.-backed Afghani government.
The reintroduction of the Taliban regime and institutions has precipitated international attention and intervention to their false promises and inhumane treatment of those that don’t fit into their extremist ideologies. The international community has been hoping that the Taliban’s promises of change, improvement and the protection of rights would be preserved but as of now, the Taliban have kept few promises and created more questions, anxiety and turmoil. To keep a secure, stable and fair Afghanistan and join the international community, the Taliban and their new regime will have to prove that they can maintain control and act with the same definitions of fairness and equality the world has agreed upon.