Activists seek UN intervention for women’s release from Taliban custody ahead of Doha meeting

Ahead of the Doha meeting scheduled for Feb. 18-19, women’s rights activists are urging the United Nations to secure the release of women from Taliban prisons.

Some women, whose names have not been disclosed, remain detained, activists said. They added that families are hesitant to reveal identities due to Taliban intimidation.

Manizha Sediqi has been in Taliban custody for over four months.

Nargis Sadat, a women’s rights activist arrested by the Taliban in Kabul on Feb. 9 last year, asserted that women would persist in fighting for their rights. “I will emerge stronger,” Sadat stated from exile.

“Our plea to the international community, human rights organizations, and Doha delegates is to pressure the Taliban for the release of women jailed for demanding rights, justice, and freedom before the meeting,” said Karima Azam, leader of a northern Afghanistan women protesters movement.

Several women, including Parisa Azada, Neda Parwani, and Zhulia Parsi, were detained last year in Kabul for protesting Taliban policies but were later released after weeks in custody.

Parwani was arrested on Sept. 19, 2023, in Kabul’s Khairkhana area and released on Dec. 18, 2023. Parsi, another protester, was detained on Sept. 27, 2023, in Kabul’s Qala-e-Fathullah area and released after 70 days. Azada was arrested on Nov. 15, 2023, in the Shahr-e-Naw area and released on Jan. 24, 2024.

Sadat, arrested on Feb. 9, 2023, spent two months in Taliban detention.

Human Rights Watch and other activists report more women still in Taliban prisons, with their identities concealed due to fear.

“The whereabouts of girls arrested in Kabul streets for alleged veil violations remain unknown. The UN and international community must pressure the Taliban for their immediate release,” said Sanam Kabiri, a human rights activist.

Since early January 2024, the Taliban have been detaining women in Kabul and other regions for purported “hijab” violations.