According to a committee of 36 UN human right experts, Taliban commanders in Afghanistan are institutionalizing large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.
“We are concerned about the continuous and systematic efforts to exclude women from the social, economic, and political spheres across the country,” the experts declared.
“These concerns are exacerbated in the cases of women from ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities such as the Hazara, Tajik, Hindu and other communities whose differences or visibility make them even more vulnerable in Afghanistan.”
Since taking over the country in August, the Taliban have imposed a number of restrictions on women and girls.
Many women have been denied the opportunity to return to work.
Female passengers who are not wearing a certain hijab are not to be picked up by taxi drivers.
If a woman leaves the house without a male relative, she is afraid of penalties.
The experts said, “these policies have also affected the ability of women to work and to make a living, pushing them further into poverty.”
“Women heads of households are especially hard hit, with their suffering compounded by the devastating consequences of the humanitarian crisis in the country.”
No schooling for females
The persistent denial of women and girls’ fundamental right to secondary and university education is of “special and grave concern,” according to the statement.
According to the experts, the vast majority of girls’ secondary schools remain closed, and most girls who should be in grades 7-12 are denied access to school purely because of their gender.
The experts also mentioned the increased risk of women and children being exploited, such as trafficking for child and forced marriages, as well as forced labor.
“Various vital, and sometimes lifesaving, service providers supporting survivors of gender-based violence have shut down for fear of retribution, as have many women’s shelters, with potentially fatal consequences for the many victims in need of such services.”
Disbanding specialized courts and prosecution units responsible for enforcing the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was another effort to destroy mechanisms created to respond to gender-based violence.
Institutions such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Independent Human Rights Commission, and women’s shelters that were established to assist and protect vulnerable women and girls have been closed or physical occupied.
For the past five months, Afghan women and girls have been protesting the measures, demanding their access to education, employment, and freedom.
Women have been abused, threatened, and detained by Taliban fighters on numerous occasions.
The experts reaffirmed their demand on the international community to increase desperately needed humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, as well as the realization of their right to recovery and development.