Taliban pressure on women’s rights activists continues, HRW says

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report on Friday revealed that women’s rights activists in Afghanistan are facing alarming threats and attacks under the Taliban rule.

The organization highlights the stories of Zhulia Parsi, Neda Parwani, Manizha Sediqi, and Parisa Azada, who are currently arbitrarily detained by the Taliban. However, it emphasizes that there are many more unnamed activists facing similar fates.

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, there has been a blatant suppression of women’s rights. In response, women across the country took to the streets, demanding “Bread, work, freedom.” The Taliban’s reaction to these protests has been characterized by violence, arbitrary detention, and torture, HRW said.

The detained women, most of whom were protesters, and others involved in running underground schools, are facing grave dangers, the report says.

It added that families, fearing repercussions, often conceal the arrests, hoping that silence may secure their release or mitigate abuses in custody. However, locating the detained women proves challenging, and when found, their condition is often shocking, the report says.

According to HRW, families have reported that detained women, some arrested alongside small children, endure abusive conditions and torture. Upon release, the Taliban imposes demands for property deeds, threatening confiscation if the woman continues her activism.

Human Rights Watch reveals that many more cases of detained women activists, both past and present, exist, but they cannot be safely named. The Taliban’s crackdown persists, with ongoing enforcement of abusive policies and brutal treatment of women, even those protesting within their homes, the organization says.

“The Taliban’s desire for formal recognition as Afghanistan’s government clashes with the resilience of Afghan women activists, who pose a significant obstacle to this goal,” Human Rights Watch says.

It urges the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan women, “who are bravely risking and losing much in their fight for justice and equality”.