The United Nations has called for an investigation into the treatment of women in Afghanistan by the Taliban, saying it amounts to crimes against humanity.
In a statement, UN-appointed independent human rights experts said that “In recent months, violations of women and girls’ fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, already the most severe and unacceptable in the world, have sharply increased.”
The experts emphasized their concerns over the Taliban banning girls and women from secondary and higher education, most job opportunities, as well as going into public places. “Confining women to their homes is tantamount to imprisonment and is likely leading to increased levels of domestic violence and mental health challenges,” the statement added.
They also cited the Taliban’s treatment of women, such as public beatings for not adhering to strict clothing regulations under Sharia law, saying that “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 experts called on the Taliban to “abide by all international human rights obligations and commitments and fully implement human rights standards, including the rights of all girls and women to education, employment, and participation in public and cultural life.”
“Taliban to respect the fundamental rights to assemble without intimidation and attacks; repeal the edict that punishes male family members for perceived transgressions of women and girls; open all secondary schools for girls and ensure their continued access to university education; and remove all restrictions from accessing public locations.”
“Global leaders should take steps to investigate and prosecute those responsible for gender persecution in appropriate international and extra-territorial jurisdictions; increase support to Afghan human rights defenders, especially women and girls; and promote and provide safe platforms for women to engage in decision making processes on the country,” the experts concluded.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abdul Qahar Balkhi rejected the UN’s statement and denounced what he described as a “current collective punishment of innocent Afghans by the U.N. sanctions regime, all in the name of women’s rights and equality,” referencing the UN freezing billions in foreign currency reserves and ongoing sanctions against the Taliban government.