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Afghan women need global action to halt Taliban abuse

2022 Aug 17, 8:24, Afghanistan
Women activists hold anti-Taliban banners while holding a demonstration in Lahore May 10, 2009. The growing Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has galvanized the nuclear-armed country to fight an

Afghan women feel abandoned by the world and they are justified in feeling this way, said Heather Barr, Associate Director, Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021 and imposed policies severely restricting basic rights--particularly those of women and girls.

On Monday, the Taliban marked a year since the Islamic outfit toppled the civilian government. Rights groups say that they dismissed all women from leadership posts in the civil service and prohibited girls in most provinces from attending secondary school.

Taliban decrees prohibit women from travelling unless accompanied by a male relative and require women's faces to be covered in public--including women TV newscasters.

HRW's Barr said the Taliban rollback of the rights of women and girls began immediately after they took power on August 15, 2021. "It has been 327 days now since the Taliban imposed a de facto ban on girls' secondary education in Afghanistan. That's 327 days of a nation's girls being denied education--327 days they will never get back," she said.

Not only that, girls in primary school are demoralized, counting the grades before they too will be forced out of school. According to HRW, women in university know the classes of women who should come after them have been cut off.

"Their future has been curtailed dramatically by Taliban bans on women working in most professions and surveillance of women, restrictions on women's movement, and workplace rules that have driven many women out of even those jobs that, on paper, they are permitted to do," Barr said.

The Taliban dismantled the system to respond to gender-based violence, created new barriers to women accessing health care, blocked women aid workers from doing their jobs, and attacked women's rights protesters.

Liam McDowall, UNAMA's Chief of Strategic Communications, told ANI that one of the foundations of the continued UN engagement with de facto authorities is the advocacy for the establishment of representative and participatory governance reflecting the diversity of the Afghan people.

However, despite efforts to establish relevant governing bodies, the Taliban have not been able to provide an inclusive structure and a consistent governing vision.

McDowall states that the Islamic outfit's decision-making process remains opaque and the lack of a constitution and clear rule of law framework exacerbates this situation.

The UNAMA last month released a report outlining the human rights situation in Afghanistan over the 10 months since the Taliban takeover.

The report summarises UNAMA's findings with regards to the protection of civilians, extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, fundamental freedoms and the situation in places of detention.


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