Critics fear for women's rights in Afghanistan after U.S., Taliban sign peace deal

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar shake hands after signing a peace agreement.
(Image credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, which is poised to end an 18-year conflict between the sides in Afghanistan.

Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. will phase its troops out of Afghanistan, first whittling the number down from 13,000 to 8,600 in the next three to four months. If the Taliban holds up its end of the commitment — which, The Associated Press reports, includes preventing extremists from using Afghanistan as a "staging ground" for attacking the U.S. and its allies — from that point forward, there will be a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in 14 months.

One issue that wasn't clearly addressed, however, is what the deal could mean for women's rights. The Taliban, which operates under a strict brand of Sharia law, has historically repressed women in Afghanistan, but there has been gradual, if incomplete, progress in Afghanistan since they were toppled by U.S. forces a few months after the invasion in 2001. So the deal certainly has led to fears of regression.

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Washington remains very cautious about trusting the Taliban, and Afghanistan's future remains in flux. The next step toward peace in the country will involve complicated talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Read more at The Associated Press and The New York Times.

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