ISLAMABAD: The United Nations reported on Wednesday that since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, many of the basic rights of women and girls have been violated, making the country the most repressive in the world for them.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the United Nations mission issued a statement saying that the new government of Afghanistan has shown an almost “singular focus on imposing rules that leave most women and girls effectively trapped in the home.”
The Taliban came to power in August 2021, as US and NATO forces were leaving Afghanistan after twenty years of war, and despite their initial promises of a more moderate stance, they have imposed harsh measures.
They have outlawed all forms of female public recreation, including the completion of formal education past the sixth grade. Women are also obligated to cover themselves from head to toe and are prohibited from working in national and international nongovernmental organizations.
“Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights,” said Roza Otunbayeva, special representative of the UN secretary-general and head of the mission in Afghanistan.
She went on to say that it was upsetting to see how “systematically, deliberately, and methodically” Afghan women and girls were being marginalized.
The bans on education and NGO work, in particular, have been met with strong international condemnation. However, the Taliban has shown no signs of backing down, insisting that the bans are only temporary suspensions put in place ostensibly because women were not properly wearing the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, and because gender segregation rules were not being adhered to.
The Taliban government has cited a perceived conflict between university curriculum and Afghan and Islamic values as the reason for the ban.
“Confining half of the country’s population to their homes in one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm,” Otunbayeva added.
“It will condemn not only women and girls, but all Afghans, to poverty and aid-dependence for generations to come,” she said. The statement “It will further isolate Afghanistan from its own citizens and from the rest of the world” is accurate.
Women who used to work for the government or attend college in Kabul are now weaving carpets at a factory.
Hafiza, a 22-year-old who only gives her first name, was a first-year law student at her university before the Taliban banned women from attending classes. “We all live like prisoners, we feel that we are caught in a cage,” she said. “The worst thing that can happen is when your hopes are dashed and you’re punished just because you’re a woman.”
Women’s rights to leave the house for work or travel are severely limited, and they are shut out of all spheres of public decision-making, according to the United Nations mission in Afghanistan.
“The implications of the harm the Taliban are inflicting on their own citizens goes beyond women and girls,” said Alison Davidian, the special representative for UN Women in Afghanistan.
Officials from the Taliban-led government were unavailable for comment.
Another worker at the carpet factory, 18-year-old Shahida (who also goes by one name) said she was in the tenth grade at a high school in Kabul when she was forced to leave school.
They should reopen schools and other educational centers for them, she said, and the Taliban government should grant them their rights.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, around 200 female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan gathered in Kabul to showcase their wares. Most people said that economic activity had decreased since the Taliban took power.
The Taliban will not respect women’s rights, said Tamkin Rahimi. “I don’t think we have any day to celebrate
because women here can’t exercise their rights and go to school, university, or work,” one woman said.
Later on Wednesday, Otunbayeva and female
representatives of Afghan civil society groups were scheduled to meet with the UN Security Council.
There are 11.6 million women and girls in Afghanistan who are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the statement. However, the international aid effort is being hampered by the Taliban’s prohibition on women working for nongovernmental organizations.