Taliban rolling back rights for women in at least 32 different areas

Afghan women rally
Afghan women rally in Kabul

New Delhi : The Taliban are “rolling back” rights for women and girls in at least 32 different areas, according to a new list compiled by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

While restricting access to education has been the most high profile abuse, discrimination is taking place systematically across women’s lives, HRW said, The Telegraph, UK, reported.

The acting director of HRW’s women’s rights division, Heather Barr, a leading expert on Afghanistan, said the Taliban were violating the rights of women and girls across a number of categories, including education, employment, freedom of movement, dress, gender-based violence, access to healthcare, and sport.

The list in more detail runs from the closure of almost all of the country’s women’s shelters, for those fleeing domestic violence, to banning women from seeing male healthcare professionals, dramtically restricting their access to healthcare, the report said.

A key concern is over freedom of movement. When the Taliban were last in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001, they had a policy that women could only leave their homes if accompanied by a mahram, or male member of their family.

This has not officially become the policy nationally, but HRW research with women in the city of Herat last week showed that it was being enforced at random by Taliban officials and fighters on the streets.

The list continues: For example, there are no female members in the Taliban’s cabinet, and while the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has disappeared from government, the Ministry of Vice and Virtue – now the Ministry of Guidance and Call, and better known as morality police – is back.

Women have also been harassed by Taliban fighters in Herat for not wearing gloves and banned from playing sport; and the system to tackle gender-based violence, alongside the laws to tackle it, has effectively collapsed, Barr said.

Despite the risks, many brave women have protested, despite bans, beatings, and harassment.

Working women also face an uncertain future, with The Taliban dismissing all of the female employees in the Kabul government other than those deemed irreplaceable, such as the women cleaning the female toilets, the report said.

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