Taliban ‘systematically violates’ women’s rights, report finds

Taliban has systematically violated women’s human rights through policies and practices that enforce gender-based discrimination across nearly all aspects of public and private life, according to a report by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.

The report, citing United Nations human rights experts, highlights the ongoing, escalating, and systematic human rights violations directed at women, girls, LGBTIQ individuals, and people of diverse gender identities, which may amount to gender persecution and a crime against humanity. Women and girls from minority ethnic and religious groups, such as the Hazara, face additional violence and discrimination, the report states.

The Taliban has also targeted activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, including women protesters, who have been detained without charge or access to legal representation and have faced abuses in custody, including torture. “UN human rights experts have expressed deep concern over women and girls being arbitrarily arrested, detained, and subjected to ill-treatment for wearing ‘bad hijab’ and allegedly violating the Taliban’s dress code,” the report noted.

According to the report, 23.7 million people in Afghanistan, nearly 80 percent of whom are women and children, require humanitarian aid. One-third of Afghans are projected to face emergency levels of food insecurity in 2024, disproportionately affecting women and girls.

The NGO urged members of the UN Human Rights Council to demand that the Taliban immediately reverse all policies and practices that restrict the full enjoyment of women’s human rights, in accordance with Afghanistan’s international obligations. The report also called for ensuring the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of diverse Afghan women and LGBTIQ individuals.

The NGO further recommended the appointment of a UN special envoy with a strong track record on human rights and women’s rights, along with senior gender and human rights experts on their team. It emphasized the importance of regularly and meaningfully engaging with diverse Afghan women civil society members and human rights defenders to ensure their views inform all aspects of the envoy’s work.