Denying Women a Seat at Taliban Talks is a Huge Mistake

February 11, 2019 | Swanee Hunt

By Swanee Hunt and Wazhma Frogh

After September 11, the United States justified deep engagement in Afghanistan in part due to the Taliban’s harsh repression of women. Now, after sustaining 2,351 deaths and more than 20,000 injuries, and spending north of a trillion dollars, the United States is negotiating peace with the draconian regime it once abhorred.

Like ISIS in the Middle East and al-Shabaab in Africa, the Taliban often uses ultra-conservative interpretations of the Quran to force women into cruel marriages with huge age differences where wives may be abused. Worse yet, women are barred from working outside the home, learning to read, or appearing in public without head-to-toe coverings. Defiance means public flogging or even death.

For US negotiators to turn their attention to the voices of extremists, while ignoring the voices of women, is not only wrong—it is wrongheaded.

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