Former US official criticizes Taliban’s detention, abuse of women, girls

Paula Dobriansky, a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, has condemned the Taliban’s arbitrary detention and abuse of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Speaking the Wilson Center on Friday, Dobriansky highlighted the concerning developments in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s virtue and vice campaign began in January.

Dobriansky noted that numerous women and girls, particularly from the Hazara and Tajik ethnic groups, have been detained and abused, some as young as 16. She accused the Taliban of failing to honor their commitments and imposing severe restrictions on women since their rise to power over two years ago.

“I use the word arbitrary arrests and detention because there have been many young women, even at age 16, who have been pulled aside, beaten, detained, and threatened because they were not wearing their hijab properly,” Dobriansky stated.

U.S. Congressman Mark Green also expressed concerns about the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan under the Taliban, especially for women and girls. “It is worsening by the day as the Taliban further restricts women’s ability to work, travel, and access basic health care services. Moreover, millions of Afghans are facing food and water insecurity and the risk of disease, with women and girls bearing the brunt of these effects,” Green said.

Waizada Behsudi, a Shia religious leader in Afghanistan, criticized the Taliban’s approaches, highlighting the cultural sensitivity around honor in Afghan society. “The concept of honor is incredibly sensitive, extending beyond Islam to encompass a significant aspect of Afghan culture. When it comes to matters of honor, the Afghan context highlights a sensitivity. Three particular issues were handled in a manner that led people to distance themselves from you (Taliban),” Behsudi commented.

Karima Azam, a women’s rights activist, also spoke out about the Taliban’s ongoing detention of women and girls. “Women are being abducted from the streets under various pretexts, particularly those who are considered beautiful or appear more organized. These abductions occur without any apparent justification or crime committed, sparking concern among families,” Azam said.

Despite denials from the Taliban’s minister of virtue and vice, evidence of these detentions, including footage and confirmation from local Taliban officials and vocal opponents, has emerged.

A group of UN experts on Friday urged the Taliban to immediately halt the detention of women and girls.