Taliban release decree saying women must consent to marriage

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Afghan Taliban government released a decree on women's rights on Friday stating that women should not be considered "property" and consent to marriage, but women should have access to education or work outside of the house not mentioned.
Since the hardline Islamist group came to power on August 15, the Taliban have been under pressure from the international community, which has largely frozen funds for Afghanistan, to commit to upholding women's rights.
"A woman is not property, but a noble and free person; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for peace or against hostility," says the Taliban decree published by spokesman Zabihillah Muhajid.
It lays down the rules of marriage and property for women, stating that women should not be forced into marriage and widows should have a share in their deceased husband's assets.
Courts should consider the rules when making decisions, and ministries of religious affairs and ministries of information should promote these rights, the decree said.
However, no mention was made of the ability of women to work or to have access to facilities or education outside of their home, which has raised major concerns from the international community.
During their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban banned women from leaving the home without male relatives and wearing full face and head covering, and girls from access to education.
The Taliban say they have changed and that high schools for girls have been allowed to open in some provinces. But many women and lawyers remain skeptical.
The international community, which has frozen billions in central bank money and development spending, has made women's rights a key element of any future engagement in Afghanistan.
The country, which is also suffering from a bank liquidity crisis as the cash flow has dried up due to the sanctions, is threatened with an economic collapse since the Taliban takeover.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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