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Taliban must reverse restrictions on women in Afghanistan, respect human rights, urges UN special envoy

At a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, the UN envoy said that the advancing erasure of women from public life was especially concerning and urged the authorities to immediately reverse policies and directives that negatively impact women and girls.

May 27, 2022
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UN special rapporteur for human Richard Bennett (Photo: UN)

Afghanistan is facing severe human rights challenges and the Taliban, the country’s de-facto rulers, have failed to acknowledge widespread rights violations, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett said in Kabul while urging the authorities to reverse these restrictions on women.

Bennet, who was appointed to the post last month, was on an 11-day visit to the country to assess the human rights situation in the country, where he met with senior Taliban officials, and civil society members, religious and minority leaders. It was the first such visit since the Taliban came to power in August last year, toppling the US-backed Afghan government.

At a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, the UN envoy said that the advancing erasure of women from public life was especially concerning and urged the authorities to immediately reverse policies and directives that negatively impact women and girls.

Since coming to power, the ultra-conservative regime has imposed severe measures such as the suspension of girls’ secondary education, severe barriers to employment, enforcing a strict form of hijab, or body covering, and limits on freedom of movement, association, and expression. 

"I urge the authorities to acknowledge human rights challenges that they are facing and to close the gap between their words and the deeds," Bennet said.

He further added, “the Taliban stands at a crossroads. Either the society will become more stable and a place where every Afghan enjoys freedom and human rights, or it will become increasingly restrictive,”

On segregation of women in public spaces, he said that directives on mahrams (male guardians), enforcing a strict form of hijab, and strong advice to stay at home feed the pattern of making “women invisible in society".

On targeted attacks on Afghanistan's Shia and Sufi religious minorities, he called for investigations, terming the trend "hallmarks of crimes against humanity". ISKP has repeatedly targeted Shia and other ethnic minorities in their schools, mosques, and other community places.

(SAM)

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