The Taliban said women should join its new government, but Afghans are deeply skeptical given the militant group’s brutal history

Women hold hands with their children as they run across a street
Women with their children try to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 to try and flee the country.
  • A Taliban leader said women should join its government, in remarks suggesting the group has changed.
  • Afghans are bracing themselves for a return to the militant group's ultra-conservative regime.
  • One minister in the fallen government said she feels "the fear that every woman has in Afghanistan."
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A Taliban leader announced an "amnesty" Tuesday and said that women should join its government, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban's cultural commission, said "The Islamic Emirate doesn't want women to be victims," according to the AP. The Islamic Emirate is the Taliban's name for Afghanistan.

"They should be in the government structure according to Shariah law."

Samagani's talk of an amnesty was unspecific, the AP reported, with little clue as to what that would entail. The militants are still negotiating with the country's fallen government, with no deals exchanged, the agency reported. The country's President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday.

The comments came days after the US troop withdrawal precipitated an astonishingly speedy Taliban takeover of the country, including its capital, Kabul.

The Taliban group has said it is open to women's education, and has promised there will be no retribution against those who worked in the fallen government, the AP reported.

Nonetheless, the rapid change of power has prompted thousands of Afghans to make desperate attempts to leave the country, fearing the Taliban's ultra-conservative history. In particular, the country has been bracing itself for an assault on women's freedoms.

In seeming anticipation of reprisal, images of women adorning the exterior of a Kabul beauty salon were painted over on Sunday. Female Afghan journalists have spoken out about their fear of retribution, while on Sunday CNN's Clarissa Ward reported having been told to stand aside by a Taliban fighter, because she is a woman.

On Sunday, before Samangani's latest remarks, Rangina Hamidi, education minister in the country's fallen government, had told the BBC that she fears the consequences of having taken a government position. She said she felt "the fear that every woman has in Afghanistan."

"Deep down in my heart I keep telling myself to think that I haven't done anything bad, and hopefully I won't have to pay the price for joining a government position," she said.

"I might face consequences that I never even dreamed of, and I guess that's the price that we pay for trying to make the world a little better," she added.

Many Afghans who lived through the Taliban's first takeover of the country, before US intervention in 2001, remain skeptical of the apparent change of tone reflected in Samangani's remarks, the AP reported.

During that time, women were largely confined to the home, and brutal punishments such as stonings, beheadings and amputations were common.

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