Afghanistan: Taliban edicts causing ‘irreparable damage’

A number of women protesters in Kabul. Dec. 2022. File photo.

Albania has issued a joint statement on behalf of over 70 countries and the European Union denouncing the Taliban’s “harmful edicts” which they state are “causing irreparable damage to Afghanistan’s economy and society and the welfare of the people of Afghanistan.”

According to the statement, the group of countries express strong concerns over the weakening of respect for the rights of women and girls in the country. They said the restrictions on their rights, freedoms and access to life-saving aid are “seen nowhere else in the world”.

The statement noted that the Taliban continues to defy the will of the Afghan people, retracting their promises to the international community and implementing oppressive measures against women and girls.

“We remain concerned that, despite international advocacy, the Taliban has not changed course after a full year of this repression – if anything, they’ve become more entrenched,” the statement said.

The Taliban’s decisions to ban women from universities, keep secondary schools closed to girls, and prevent Afghan women from working in NGOs, among other restrictions, are utterly indefensible, the statement said. 

The group of nations also said they note that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emphasized in its January 2023 meeting, “the position of Islamic [law] on the need for women’s education, work, and participation in public life.”

They said the ban on girls and women’s secondary and university education in Afghanistan deprives Afghan women and girls the enjoyment of the human right to education, increases risks of experiencing gender-based violence, including child, early, and forced marriage, and undermines Afghanistan’s stability, economic and social development, inclusive governance, and the realization and enjoyment of all human rights.

In addition, the order barring female employees of national and international NGOs from the workplace means that millions of Afghans will be unable to access life-saving humanitarian assistance and face even higher risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse, read the statement.  

According to the group of nations, one-third of the humanitarian workforce in Afghanistan is female. Without these women, especially in the humanitarian sector, vulnerable women in need of basic support such as food, social services, and safe drinking water, are now unable to be reached.

“These harmful edicts are causing irreparable damage to Afghanistan’s economy and society and the welfare of the people of Afghanistan,” read the statement.

The countries said they “remain united in supporting the calls by the Afghan people for the full, equal, and meaningful participation of Afghan women, girls, and members of minority communities in Afghan society, and will continue to stand beside them.”The statement, delivered by Albania, was on behalf of Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the State of Palestine, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.