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'Future looks dark' for Afghan women: Taliban attempting to ‘erase’ women and girls from public life: UN rights experts

The Taliban through a “wave of measures” are attempting to “erase" women and girls from public life, UN rights experts have said, highlighting what they call “collective punishment” of women by enforcing "gender-biased and harmful" policies

Jan 18, 2022
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'Future looks dark' for Afghan women

The Taliban through a “wave of measures” are attempting to “erase" women and girls from public life, UN rights experts have said, highlighting what they call “collective punishment” of women by enforcing "gender-biased and harmful" policies. Since coming to power last year, the group has banned girls and women from education, work and restricted their movement. 

“Taken together, these policies constitute a collective punishment of women and girls, grounded on gender-based bias and harmful practices,” a UN report on Monday quoted rights experts as saying. Women heads of Afghan families are the hardest hit as they struggle to feed their families amid restrictions. 

In August last year, the Taliban seized power in a violent takeover, toppling the US-backed Afghan government, and imposed a “wave of measures” such as barring women from returning to their jobs.

“The future looks dark,” a woman from Afghanistan’s Ghazni province was quoted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its latest report, titled “Afghanistan: Taliban deprive women of Livelihood and Identity”.

“I had many dreams, wanted to continue studying and working. I was thinking of doing my master’s. At the moment, they [the Taliban] don’t even allow girls to finish high school.” she said.

Other gender-biased policies included requiring a male relative to accompany them in public spaces, prohibiting them from using public transport on their own, as well as imposing a strict dress code on women and girls.

Sufferings of women, the UN report added, are “compounded” by the devastating consequences of the humanitarian crisis, resulting from loss of savings, jobs, and income support. 

Around three dozen experts from UN Human Rights Council have on Monday denounced an “attempt to steadily erase women and girls from public life”, pointing out the closure of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the occupation of the premises of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Many groups, earlier supporting victims of gender crimes, also shut down, fearing retribution from their new rulers. 
 
“Taliban policies have rapidly turned many women and girls into virtual prisoners in their homes, depriving the country of one of its most precious resources, the skills, and talents of the female half of the population,” Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said.

The crisis, she added, is “escalating with no end in sight.” 

(SAM)

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