Shari’a and Pashtunwali: Implications for Afghan Women

Just Future partners publish a new report on the interface between Pashtunwali and Shari’a law in Afghanistan, examining the effects on the position of women and proposing recommendations for engagement with the Taliban.

After the start of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in May 2021, the Taliban intensified its multi-fronted campaign to overcome the Afghan security forces and gain control of large swaths of the country. This intensification culminated in the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, when the Taliban entered Kabul and claimed control over the entire country.

Since early September 2021, the Taliban has tightened its control and announced that it will, on a temporary basis, adopt the 1964 Constitution with the caveat that provisions in the Constitution that they interpret as being incompatible with Shari’a will not apply.

“[W]e are ruled by men who offer us nothing but the [Qurʾan], even though many of them cannot read… we are in despair.”

Dominating the narrative and concern of the international community during the evacuation and its aftermath has been the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rules on the place and role of women in society. The Taliban, however, is far from monolithic nor is it bound to the manner in which it ruled Afghanistan during its 1996-2001 iteration. To better understand and plan interventions to support Afghan women, this research examined the impact of the Taliban rule on the place of women in Afghan society through three dimensions. These were:

  1. The extent to which Shari’a-based law making and practice by the Taliban will have foundations in edicts of Pashtunwali (regardless of their narrative),
  2. The extent to which normative conflicts between Pashtunwali and Shari’a can be resolved, and
  3. The extent to which the rule of law – based on Shari’a, Pashtunwali, or a combination – would be adhered to in the different and diverse communities throughout the country given the long history of a weak centralized rule of law in Afghanistan.

This report examines these question, enabling a greater understanding of the interface between Pashtunwali and Shari’a in theory, and providing recommendations for the international community’s engagement with the Taliban.

Read the report below:

Read the policy brief here:

Cover photo credit: Daniel Arrhakis – Shadows of Betrayal (

Archiving and preserving evidence of mass crimes in DRC

In South Kivu, Just Future partner organization SOS Informations Juridiques Multisectorielles (SOS-IJM) trained a group of legal clinic facilitators of on archiving and preserving evidence of mass crimes. The training was organized as part of the Just Future program implemented in the DRC in partnership with Cordaid.

In his opening remarks, Justin Bahirwe Mutabunga, coordinator of SOS-IJM, noted that the training aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to develop strategies to safeguard key evidence of mass crimes. By preserving this evidence, victims of massacres and violence committed in South Kivu province, and in the DRC in general, will be better able to seek justice.

For Ms. Huguette Matabaro, who leads SOS-IJMs lobbying and advocacy, the legal clinics are alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution. By enabling the safeguarding and archiving of testimonials and other evidence of crimes committed in South Kivu over the past 20 years on behalf of victims, the legal clinics will contribute significantly to transitional justice in South Kivu.

“We expect that the legal clinic facilitators will start collecting data and evidence and preserve it well, so that if the situation in DRC appears before the International Criminal Court or another tribunal, this evidence will be presented and victims will be able to obtain justice,” she said.

“After this training, we will follow up with data collection in legal clinics. And we won’t only collect data, but also the archive and document it,” concluded Matabaro.

The participants of the workshop trained in different techniques of collection, transmission, storage and sharing of evidence of mass crimes. They exchanged on secure communication and digital security for data protection. The workshop offered an opportunity for participants to strengthen the security of their platforms and digital tools, including social network accounts, phones and laptops.

“We were very pleased with the subject matter that was very well chosen in relation to the theme,” noted a participant.

Mr. Dieudonné Marhegane said he benefited a lot from this training. As a human rights defender, the lessons received will help him to protect and preserve his data for posterity and to share them with people further afield.

“For our work as archivists, I know that with electronic archiving, we can now easily reach our data. Before we did the archiving manually. Now can keep them online in servers, through Gmail or Drive for example. This will help us to have evidence available and share with people elsewhere, “he said.

The next step will be the gradual collection, documentation and archiving of data. These activities will take place in legal clinics.