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Human RightsAfghanistan

Taliban's curbs on women 'crime against humanity' — report

May 26, 2023

The Taliban's restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and girls should be investigated as possible crimes under international law, two NGOs said in a joint report.

A Taliban fighter stands guard as women wait to receive food rations distributed by a humanitarian aid group, in Kabul
Under the Taliban, women's access to education and work has been limited, along with their ability to travel and access medical care.Image: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo/picture alliance

Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, NGOs based in London and Geneva respectively, jointly released a report on Friday urging an investigation into the Taliban's restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and girls. 

Titled, "The Taliban's war on women: The crime against humanity of gender persecution in Afghanistan," it cited the ICC statute, which lists gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity.

The report shed light on the severe limitations imposed by the Islamic fundamentalist group on women and girls in the war-torn country, after they seized power in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after two decades of war.

How has the Taliban rule affected women's rights?

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule, the Taliban have turned increasingly authoritarian, with a profound impact on various aspects of women's lives. 

Women's access to education and work has been limited, along with their ability to travel and access medical care.

The report also accused the Taliban of targeting women and girls who have taken part in peaceful protests by detaining, forcibly disappearing them and subjecting them to torture in custody.

Afghan girls have few options under Taliban

Amnesty also documented cases of women and girls being forcibly married to members of the Taliban, as well as attempts to force them into such marriages. The report said those who refused such marriages were "subjected to abduction, intimidation, threats and torture."

"Afghan women and girls are the victims of a crime against humanity of gender persecution. The gravity of the crime demands a far more robust international response than has been seen to date. There is only one outcome acceptable: this system of gender oppression and persecution must be dismantled," said Agnes Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International.

Call for action against Taliban

The organizations have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include "the crime against humanity of gender persecution" in its ongoing investigation into the situation in Afghanistan.

They urged the international community to address the issue of "gender persecution and other potential violations of international law by the Taliban" during the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.

"Holding the Taliban criminally accountable and tackling rampant impunity for the serious crimes documented in this report is a necessary step toward securing justice for survivors of their egregious practices. We simply cannot afford to fail the women and girls of Afghanistan," said Santiago A. Canton, secretary-general at the International Commission of Jurists.

UN condemns Taliban ban on working women

The Taliban authorities, who claim to have established an "Islamic system" following the departure of the US-led NATO forces, have not yet responded to the report. In the past, the Taliban dismissed similar reports as "biased and propagandistic."

In April, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Taliban to ensure the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

The report by Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists adds further weight to the need for urgent action to address the dire situation faced by Afghan women and girls under Taliban rule.

tg/sri (dpa, AP, EPD)

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