Afghanistan: UN calls for end to ‘unimaginable restrictions’ on women

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk on Tuesday 27 December called on the Afghan Taliban to lift the “unimaginable restrictions” imposed on women, warning against “terrible consequences” to “all Afghan people”.

These restrictions should “pose a risk beyond the borders of Afghanistan”writes Volker Türk in a press release, where he warns the Taliban: “No country can develop – or even survive – socially and economically if half of its population is excluded.”

“Terrible consequences”

The Taliban, who took power in Kabul in mid-August 2021 and whose authority is not recognized by most of the international community, banned women and girls from pursuing university studies and, since December 24, to work in national or international NGOs.

“This latest decree from the de facto authorities will have terrible consequences for women and for all the Afghan people”underlined the High Commissioner. “Prohibiting women from working in NGOs will deprive them and their families of their income, and of their right to contribute positively to the development of their country and the well-being of their fellow citizens”underlined Volker Türk, adding his voice to a concert of reprobations of the whole world.

Cascading draconian measures

Many NGOs depend on their female staff and will not be able to function without them. On Monday, half a dozen of the very many NGOs present in the country had suspended their activity, the Taliban having threatened to revoke the authorizations of organizations that did not respect the decree.

“The ban will significantly impair, if not destroy, the ability of these NGOs to provide essential services on which so many vulnerable Afghans depend,” predicts the head of human rights at the UN, more than half of the population – or about 24 million people – are dependent in one way or another on humanitarian aid.

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Despite their promises to be more flexible, the Taliban have returned to the ultra-rigorous interpretation of Islam that marked their first spell in power (1996-2001). Since their return to power in August 2021, draconian measures have multiplied, in particular against women who have been gradually excluded from public life and excluded from colleges and high schools.

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