Gordon Brown, the U.N. global education envoy, has called upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to classify gender discrimination in Afghanistan as a crime against humanity. He urges the ICC to initiate an investigation with the goal of holding those accountable for their actions. Brown’s appeal was directed at ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, with the request stemming from the second anniversary of the Taliban’s resurgence to power following the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces after two decades of conflict.
Brown stated, “This represents one of the most egregious violations of human rights against women and girls worldwide. Failing to address this and allowing it to continue with impunity could set a dangerous precedent for similar actions by others.” Following the Taliban’s return to power, girls aged 12 and above have faced severe restrictions on attending school. Additionally, the Taliban has curtailed the participation of Afghan women in aid organizations, shuttered beauty salons, prohibited women from public parks, and enforced travel restrictions unless accompanied by a male guardian.
“The ICC should formally recognize this gender-based discrimination as a crime against humanity and conduct a thorough inquiry to ultimately prosecute those responsible,” remarked Brown, a former British prime minister. As of now, there has been no immediate response from Khan’s office regarding this matter. Khan is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan during the last two decades.
In accordance with their interpretation of Islamic law, the Taliban claims to uphold certain rights. However, Brown contends that there exists a division within the Taliban’s ranks. Some officials in Kabul are reportedly open to allowing girls’ education, while leaders in Kandahar—birthplace of the Taliban and the location of the supreme spiritual leader—continue to resist such initiatives.
“We must work to persuade these religious leaders that their stance contradicts the true essence of Islam. Denying girls and women the fundamental rights enjoyed by men goes against the principles of our faith,” Brown emphasized. He called upon Muslim-majority nations to send a delegation to Kandahar in an effort to convince Taliban leaders to overturn their ban on girls’ education and women’s employment, which Brown argues lacks basis in the Quran or Islamic teachings.