FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Afghan Women In The 1970s?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a group of women in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the 1970s.

Verdict: False

The image shows Tehran University students in Tehran, Iran, in 1971.

Fact Check:

The Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 15 left many Afghan women anxiously anticipating a return to the repressive rules the group implemented while in power in the country from 1996 to 2001, according to The New York Times. The Taliban said women would have rights under Islamic law, though many people remain skeptical, CBC News reported. During the previous Taliban rule, women faced restrictive laws including not being allowed to go to school after age 10 and being made to wear a burqa, according to BBC News.

In the 1960s and 1970s, before the Taliban took power, women in some parts had greater freedom to make their own choices and a small percentage of women chose to wear western-style clothes such as miniskirts, according to CNN. An image shared on Facebook purportedly from this period in Afghanistan shows seven women wearing western-style clothing sitting outside reading. Text accompanying the image reads, “Kabul Afghanistan in the 1970s before the alphabet boys destroyed it via Operation Cyclone.”

Operation Cyclone refers to a covert CIA operation active throughout the 1980s that sought to arm and train the mujahadeen, Islamic Afghan warriors, to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: Does This Video Show The Taliban Dancing In Celebration Of Taking Over Afghanistan?)

The image, however, was not taken in Kabul. Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found a similar photo with some of the same women included in a 2012 Foreign Policy photo essay titled, “Once Upon a Time in Tehran.” Tehran is the capital of Iran.

“Tehran University students lounge in 1971,” reads the image’s caption. “Tehran University was opened to women in 1934, when the college was founded, which was well before most universities in the United States were integrating women into the classroom.”

The Foreign Policy photo essay says the picture is courtesy of Kaveh Farrokh, a historian focusing on Iran. The image can be found on his personal website as part of a collection of photos titled, “Old Tehran: 1960s and 1970s.”

“This picture is from Iran; The photo is from young Iranian university students in 1971,” Farrokh said in an email to Check Your Fact. “This has nothing to do with Kabul or Afghanistan. The photo is from a book called: The Land of Kings.”

Prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iranian women often wore western-style clothes, according to BBC News.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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