The decree centres on marriage and widows' rights, stating "no one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure" and that a widow is entitled to a share of her husband's inheritance.

Women in Afghanistan for decades were treated like property – as an exchange token for blood money or ending disputes or tribal feuds.
Women in Afghanistan for decades were treated like property – as an exchange token for blood money or ending disputes or tribal feuds. (AP)

The Taliban has decreed that they are banning the forced marriage of women in the war-torn country.

The decree on Friday announced by Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhunzada did not mention a minimum age for marriage, which previously was set at 16 years old.

“Both (women and men) should be equal,” said the decree, adding that “no one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure.” 

"A woman is not a property, but a noble and free human being; no one can give her to anyone in exchange for peace...or to end animosity," the decree said.

It set out the rules governing marriage and property for women, stating women should not be forced into marriage and widows should have share in their late husband's property.

Courts should take into account the rules when making decisions, and religious affairs and information ministries should promote these rights, the decree said.

However, it made no mention of women being able to work or access facilities outside the home or education, which have been major concerns from the international community.

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Women's rights in Afghanistan

Forced marriages have become more commonplace in the poor, conservative country, as the internally displaced marry off their young daughters in exchange for a bride-price that can be used to pay debts and feed their families.

Women in Afghanistan for decades were treated like property – as an exchange token for blood money or ending disputes or tribal feuds. The Taliban now state they are against the practice. They also said a widow will now be allowed to re-marry 17 weeks after her husband's death, choosing her new husband freely.

Longstanding tribal traditions have held it customary for a widow to marry one of her husband's brothers or relatives in the event of his death.

The Taliban leadership says it has ordered Afghan courts to treat women fairly, especially widows seeking inheritance as next of kin.

The group also says it has asked government ministers to spread awareness of women's rights across the population.

Friday's announcement comes as thousands of girls from grades seven to 12 are still not allowed to attend school, and a majority of women are banned from returning to their jobs since the Taliban takeover.

READ MORE: UN panel urges conditional aid to protect Afghanistan's women

Source: AP