Women’s rights group urges broader focus ‘beyond girls’ education’ in Afghanistan

The Purple Saturdays Movement, a women’s rights advocacy group, has called on civil society activists and human rights advocates, both inside and outside Afghanistan, to broaden their focus beyond merely reopening schools and universities for girls above the sixth grade.

In a statement, the movement stressed that while the education of girls is crucial, the Taliban’s human rights abuses extend far beyond the closure of educational institutions. “Since retaking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban has implemented a host of repressive measures, particularly against women and girls,” the statement said.

The group’s statement highlighted that the Taliban’s violations are not confined to educational rights. Reports have documented extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, severe restrictions on freedom of speech, and persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.

The Purple Saturdays movement warned that focusing solely on education risks ignoring the broader spectrum of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Taliban. It noted that these abuses include the systematic oppression of women, suppression of the free press, and targeting of former government employees and activists.

The group called for coherent and comprehensive action, cautioning that a narrow focus on education allows the Taliban to use the reopening of schools as a smokescreen to distract the international community from their continued abuses. It emphasized that campaigns should not isolate educational rights from other fundamental freedoms, urging activists to work on a broad front to ensure all human rights are upheld.

The movement urged the international community to pressure the Taliban to respect all human rights, not just educational rights. “Diplomatic and economic measures should be considered to ensure compliance. Elevate the voices of local activists who understand the multifaceted nature of Taliban repression,” the statement reads.

Additionally, the group proposed continuous monitoring and reporting of human rights conditions in Afghanistan and the implementation of sanctions against Taliban leaders responsible for human rights violations.