Afghanistan under the Taliban government is the “most repressive country in the world” for women’s rights, with authorities effectively locking women and girls into their homes, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
About 20 women held a rare demonstration on a Kabul street on Wednesday, calling on the international community to protect Afghans, AFP journalists found.
The Taliban government maintains a strict interpretation of Islam and has imposed a slew of restrictions on girls and women since taking power in August 2021.
“It was disturbing to witness their methodical, deliberate and systematic efforts to expel Afghan women and girls from the public sphere,” Roza Otunbayeva, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement marking International Women’s Day. .
The UN mission said the crackdown was a “colossal act of national self-harm” at a time when Afghanistan is facing some of the world’s worst humanitarian and economic crises.
Taliban authorities have removed women from all essential government jobs, or are paying them a fraction of their former salary to stay at home.
Women are also banned from going to parks, carnivals, gyms and public baths and are required to cover up in public – ideally with a burqa.
But the greatest repression has been directed against teenage girls and college students, with authorities banning them from high schools and higher education institutions.
Some women have sporadically protested the bans — putting them at risk of arrest, violence and social stigma for participating — but authorities usually disperse them quickly.
“The time has come for the United Nations to take a decisive and serious decision on the fate of the (Afghan) people,” one of the protesters at the rally in Kabul read from a statement.
No country has officially recognized the Taliban government as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, with women’s right to education a sticking point in aid and recognition negotiations.
More than half of the country’s 38 million people are hungry and nearly four million children are malnourished, aid organizations say.
The crisis was exacerbated late last year when the Taliban leadership banned Afghan women from working with NGOs, forcing several aid agencies to suspend essential work.
Foreign aid has also declined dramatically since Afghanistan’s assets were frozen by the United States after the Taliban’s return to power, exacerbating the crisis.
Alison Davidian, the United Nations Special Representative for Women in Afghanistan, said the implications of the government’s policies “affect all Afghans and will reverberate for generations.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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