Taliban Enforces New Decrees Against Women

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Headline News | 0 comments

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    This article was originally published by Emily Thompson at The Activist Post. 

    Afghan women continue to feel scared or unsafe leaving their homes alone because of new Taliban decrees and enforcement campaigns on clothing and male guardians, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan reports.

    According to the new UN report, since the August 2021 takeover, the Taliban have introduced more than 50 decrees that directly curtail the rights and dignity of women.

    UN Women, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have, since August 2022, tasked themselves with consulting with diverse Afghan women every few months to gain a greater understanding of what is happening in the country.

    The results show that women fear arrest and the long-lasting stigma and shame associated with being taken into police custody, the report stated.

    In addition, over half of women – 57 percent – felt unsafe leaving the house without a mahram, a male guardian. Risks to their security and their anxiety levels increased whenever a new decree was announced specifically targeting them.

    Only one percent of women indicated that they had “good” or “full” influence on decision-making at the community level.

    Some respondents expressed deep disappointment with some UN Member States who in their efforts to engage the Taliban, were overlooking the severity of what is an unprecedented women’s rights crisis and the associated violations of international law, based on treaties ratified by previous Afghan governments.

    Some women argued that one way for the international community to improve their situation would be to link international aid to better conditions for women and to provide opportunities for women to talk directly with the Taliban.

    UN independent human rights experts have expressed profound concern over multiple reports detailing arbitrary arrests, detention, and ill-treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan.

    The incidents, which have surged since early January, are purportedly linked to violations of the Taliban’s stringent dress code for women.

    The Human Rights Council-appointed experts called on the de facto (Taliban) authorities to comply with Afghanistan’s human rights obligations, including under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

    The Taliban crackdown initially began in western Kabul, predominantly inhabited by the minority ethnic Hazara community – which has been the target of extremist violence for years – but swiftly expanded to other areas, including Tajik-populated regions and provinces such as Bamiyan, Baghlan, Balkh, Daykundi and Kunduz.

    Women and girls reportedly accused by the Taliban of wearing “bad hijab” were arrested during the operation in public places, including shopping centers, schools, and street markets.

    Some were forcibly taken to police vehicles, held incommunicado, and denied legal representation, according to a news release issued by UN rights office OHCHR on behalf of the experts.

    “Women and girls were reportedly held in overcrowded spaces in police stations, received only one meal a day, with some of them being subjected to physical violence, threats and intimidation,” they said.

    In May 2022, Taliban authorities ordered all women to observe “proper hijab,” preferably by wearing a chadari – a loose black garment covering the body and face – in public and made male relatives responsible for enforcing the ban or face punishment.

    While some detainees were released after a few hours, others reportedly languished in custody for days or weeks.

    The lack of transparency and access to justice means the current number of detainees potentially held incommunicado is hard to assess.

    Their release has been made contingent on male family members and community elders providing assurances, often in writing, that they would comply with the prescribed dress code in the future.

    “In addition to punishing women for what they wear, assigning responsibility for what women wear to men violates women’s agency and perpetuates an institutionalized system of discrimination, control of women and girls and further diminishes their place in society,” the experts said.

    In addition, UNAMA reported several human rights violations affecting women and restrictions on freedom of expression by the Taliban authorities. Approximately 400 women were banned from working at a pine nut processing facility, and another 200 were dismissed from a power plant. Women have been arrested for buying contraceptives, and unmarried female healthcare workers were coerced into marriage under the threat of job loss.

    Even though UN officials on the ground in Afghanistan have tried to make a difference, many women continue to face restrictions on public transport and employment due to their marital status or lack of a male chaperone. Arbitrary arrests are made for not adhering to the hijab decree, with varying consequences for violations.

    The Taliban have also curtailed freedom of expression by instructing educational institutions to remove books against Hanafi jurisprudence, impacting materials related to Shi’a beliefs, political parties, and the previous elected government.

    It is clear that Afghan’s women continue to experience sustained abuse and oppression at the hands of the Taliban government and it is up to Western countries to crack down on the authorities by tying aid relief to the loosening of restrictions on women.

    Without such intervention, Afghanistan’s women will only continue to suffer and remain a persecuted segment of society without any hope for their future.


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