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UN Expert Slams Taliban Crimes Against Afghan Women, Girls

Report Calls for Accountability, End to Serious Abuses

By Heather Barr

Associate Director, Women's Rights Division

June 12, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

On June 18, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, will present to the UN Human Rights Council his latest report, which powerfully calls for the Taliban to be held accountable for their crimes against women and girls. The report, issued today, examines the Taliban’s “institutionalized system of discrimination, segregation, disrespect for human dignity and exclusion of women and girls.”

The situation in Afghanistan is the most serious women’s rights crisis in world, and it is steadily worsening. The Taliban continue to issue abusive orders and have intensified enforcement of existing ones. In March, the Taliban issued an order that women be stoned to death for so-called “moral crimes,” such as sex outside of marriage and “running away” from their homes, often to escape domestic violence.

Afghan women and girls are banned from education beyond sixth grade, from many forms of employment, and from free movement, protest, and public life. They often describe themselves as prisoners in their own homes. It is no surprise that rates of suicide are escalating.

The special rapporteur pulls no punches. Bennett calls the Taliban’s system of discrimination a crime against humanity, saying it “constituted in and of itself a widespread and systematic attack on the entire civilian population of Afghanistan.”

In line with the demands from Afghan women’s rights activists, the special rapporteur calls for measures including: the recognition and codification of gender apartheid as a crime under international law; for states to bring a case in the International Court of Justice regarding Taliban violations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; support to the International Criminal Court as it investigates Taliban crimes, including the crime of gender persecution; and for states to “[a]void normalization or legitimization” of the Taliban “until and unless there are demonstrated, measurable and independently verified improvements, including human rights benchmarks, particularly for women and girls.”

Afghan women and girls feel forgotten by the world, and the special rapporteur’s report leaves no doubt as to the seriousness of the Taliban’s crimes against them. It should be a priority for every government that professes to care about women’s rights to hold the Taliban to account.



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