Experts decry measures to ‘steadily erase’ Afghan women and girls from public life
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New York: Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalizing large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls, independent UN human rights experts warned on Monday.
The group of around three dozen Human Rights Council-appointed experts highlighted a “wave of measures” such as barring women from returning to their jobs, requiring a male relative to accompany them in public spaces, prohibiting women from using public transport on their own, as well as imposing a strict dress code on women and girls.
“Taken together, these policies constitute a collective punishment of women and girls, grounded on gender-based bias and harmful practices,” 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”, they explained.
The experts also noted the increased risk of exploitation of women and girls, including trafficking for the purposes of child and forced marriage, as well as sexual exploitation and forced labor.
The Taliban, who became de facto rulers of Afghanistan after taking the capital Kabul last August, also continue to deny the fundamental right to secondary and tertiary education, arguing that women and men must be segregated and that female students have to abide by a specific dress code.
As a result, most girls’ secondary schools remain closed. The vast majority of girls who should be attending grades 7–12 are being denied access to school, based solely on their gender.
The experts denounce 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.