Timeline of Afghanistan's History

                                      Afghan woman liberated by the UN lifts up her burqa 

1978    Guerrilla war begins in Afghanistan, with American-backed, fundamentalist Islamic fighters opposing Soviet-backed Afghan government

1980    Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, escalating the war and beginning the Soviet “Vietnam War”

1988        Soviet Union finally admits defeat in Afghanistan; total withdrawal by February 1989
An estimated 40,000-50,000 Soviets died in war

1989        With Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan falls into full-scale civil war, as opposing groups vie for power of nation

1994    Taliban militia, an extremist and militant religious and political group, forms and begins fighting aggressively against the Afghan government

1996        Taliban takes over capital city of Kabul.  The Taliban begin massive human rights violations as they attempt to impose the most radically fundamentalist form of Islam on Afghanistan.  In the words of Ellis, “They imposed extremely restrictive laws on girls and women.  Schools for girls were closed down, women were no longer allowed to hold jobs, and strict dress codes were enforced.  Books were burned, televisions smashed, and music in any form was forbidden” (168).  Although women are the most restricted group, all Afghans are oppressed by Taliban.  Men are forced to grow long beards, the national sport of Afghanistan is outlawed, all forms of political and religious dissent is absolutely forbidden, and so forth.

1997        Taliban now control over 2/3 of the country.

2001    Taliban begin to require that all religious minorities wear badges identifying themselves as non-Muslims.  In March, the Taliban blow up ancient, giant statues of Buddha, despite international outcry and attempts to save them.
            September 11 attacks on America, spearheaded by Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden of the group Al Qaeda, who trained with the Taliban in Afghanistan and were protected by them.  U.S. and UK forces begin air attacks against Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

2002    Attacks against Taliban continue, further weakening them

2003    Taliban driven from Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan; NATO forces take over Kabul.  But Taliban are not completely destroyed.  They retreat into the mountains to regroup.

2004    Afghan General Assembly adopts a new constitution with a government under president Hamid Karzai
2005    In September, Afghans vote in the first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years.
            However, as of October 11, 2005, the Taliban still continue to launch attacks against their fellow Afghan citizens and against U.S. and U.K. forces.  Furthermore, other conservative, hard-line fundamentalist groups with aims similar to the Taliban have been forming.  In addition, Osama bin Laden still survives, and some people theorize he may still be hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“Since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, many would agree that the political and cultural position of Afghan women has improved substantially. The recently adopted Afghan constitution states that "the citizens of Afghanistan - whether man or woman- have equal rights and duties before the law". So far, women have been allowed to return back to work, the government no longer forces them to wear the all covering burqa, and they even have been appointed to prominent positions in the government. Despite all these changes many challenges still remain. The repression of women is still prevalent in rural areas where many families still restrict their own mothers, daughters, wives and sisters from participation in public life. They are still forced into marriages and denied a basic education. Numerous school for girls have been burned down and little girls have even been poisoned to death for daring to go to school” (Abdullah Qazi).