Taliban’s latest actions targeting women and girls in Afghanistan deepen existing flagrant violations of their human rights and freedoms, and the draconian activities “should be investigated as gender persecution”, according human rights experts.
TANTAMOUNT TO IMPRISONMENT’
Noting that violations of women and girls’ have sharply increased in Afghanistan, eleven UN-appointed independent human rights experts said that girls remained excluded from secondary education, women stopped from entering public places such as parks and gyms, and even young women are blocked from entering their university.
“Confining women to their homes is tantamount to imprisonment and is likely leading to increased levels of domestic violence and mental health challenges”.
The experts stated that Taliban officers have been brutally beating men accompanying women wearing colourful clothing, or without a face covering.
Moreover, they are removing women and girls’ agency by punishing male relatives for the purported offences of women – instrumentalizing one gender against the other by encouraging men to control the behaviour, attire and movement of women and girls in their circles.
“We are deeply concerned that such actions are intended to compel men and boys to punish women and girls who resist the Taliban’s erasure of them, further depriving them of their rights, and normalizing violence against them”, the statement underscored.
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Women human rights defenders peacefully protesting against growing restrictions on women have for months been increasingly targeted, beaten, and arrested, they said.
On 3 November, a press conference was disrupted and attendees detained, including activist Zarifa Yaquobi, who along with four men, remain incarcerated by the Taliban’s intelligence department.
The experts raised their concern over the well being of the arrested human rights defenders and reminded the Taliban that “arresting people for exercising their fundamental rights is unlawful and constitutes arbitrary detention”.
CALL TO TALIBAN
- Abide by all international human rights obligations and commitments incumbent upon Afghanistan, fully implement the human rights standards that Afghanistan has freely accepted, including respecting the rights of all girls and women to education, employment, and participation in public and cultural life.
- Immediately and unconditionally release Zarifa Yaquobi and the four men detained with her, or make the reasons for their continued detention public and allow contact with their respective families and lawyers.
- Respect the fundamental rights of women and men to associate and assemble without intimidation and attacks. Instead of arresting and repressing women for asking for their human rights, the Taliban must hear and respond to their legitimate concerns.
- Repeal the edict that punishes male family members for perceived transgressions of women and girls.
- Immediately open all secondary schools for girls and ensure their continued access to university education.
- Immediately remove the restrictions on women and girls from accessing all public locations
CALL ON MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
- Demand the reversal of restrictions on women and girls and ensure respect and protection of women’s rights is central to all discussions with the Taliban de facto authorities.
- Take steps to investigate and prosecute those responsible in Afghanistan for gender persecution in appropriate international and extra-territorial jurisdictions.
- Increase support to Afghan human rights defenders, especially women and girls
- Promote and provide safe platforms for women to engage in decision making processes on Afghanistan.”
The experts who made the comments are: Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders