HRW urges global support for Afghan women activists seeking recognition of ‘gender apartheid’

A senior official from Human Rights Watch has called for concrete actions by global nations in response to the Taliban’s violations of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Heather Barr, associate director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, also urged countries to support Afghan women activists who have launched a worldwide campaign for the recognition of gender apartheid under international law in Afghanistan.

Barr referenced a statement from a group of UN special procedures mandate holders that condemned the detention of activists by the Taliban and demanded their release, noting that some activists’ detentions remain unknown because “their families have been frightened into remaining silent.”

“Organizations including Human Rights Watch, along with many other human rights organizations and Afghan human rights experts, have been calling for nearly three years for the creation of a new UN-mandated accountability mechanism,” Barr stated.

This announcement comes as Freedom Now declared its support for the nomination of women’s rights defender and activist Zholia Parsi for the Martin Ennals Award. Parsi, who spent approximately 80 nights in Taliban prisons, is recognized by Freedom Now for her resistance to Taliban oppression. “We stand in solidarity with her and her colleagues in their fight against Taliban oppression,” Freedom Now said. “Zholia was imprisoned for challenging the Taliban’s gender apartheid.”

The push for the recognition of gender apartheid in Afghanistan comes amid widespread concern over severe violations of human rights, particularly those of women, in the country. The UN Human Rights Council is expected to convene next week to discuss the human rights situation in Afghanistan.