SIGAR Report: Women in Afghanistan protest despite risks

Women protesters. File photo.

A new report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) details the severe repercussions faced by women who protest against the Taliban, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and torture.

According to SIGAR, despite these significant risks, small groups of women still gathered to protest in Takhar and Balkh provinces on International Women’s Day in March.

The report also highlights that Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada has defended the group’s harsh interpretation of Sharia law, which sanctions public floggings and stonings of women accused of adultery.

“Women and girls are subjected to verbal harassment, searches, interrogations, arrests, and detentions,” stated the report. It further cited a UN special rapporteur’s statement that the Taliban’s disregard for the fundamental rights of women and girls is unparalleled worldwide.

SIGAR’s interviews reveal a widespread belief among Afghans that conditions are worsening under Taliban rule. A former Afghan Army officer highlighted increasing poverty, corruption, and the resurgence of terrorist groups as pressing issues. “The more time we lose, the worse it will get,” he commented, also noting stolen natural resources and student indoctrination.

Moreover, many Afghans resettled in the United States mourn the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, expressing a profound sense of betrayal and abandonment by both Afghan leadership and U.S. partners.

Despite Taliban assurances of amnesty, nearly all the Afghans interviewed by SIGAR were aware of reprisal killings targeting former officials and supporters of the previous government. The report also noted widespread fear of ongoing human rights abuses by the Taliban, with some victims providing evidence of atrocities against their families.

The report concluded that the U.S.-Taliban deal in Doha contributed to the rapid U.S. withdrawal and the subsequent collapse of the government, a belief shared by many Afghans who fled their country.