Sight Magazine – UN rights body seeks to reverse Taliban policy that makes Afghan women ‘invisible’


Geneva, Switzerland

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday adopted a resolution condemning violations of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, urging the ruling Taliban to end restrictive practices described as making them “invisible” in society .

The Taliban seized power for the second time in Afghanistan last August as international forces supporting a pro-Western government withdrew.

Afghan women wait to receive a food package distributed by a Saudi aid group at a distribution center in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 25. PHOTO: Reuters/Ali Khara/File Photos.

Critics say women’s rights have since been undermined with new restrictions on their clothing, movement and education, despite previous Taliban vows to the contrary.

“Since August 2021, the human rights situation in Afghanistan has seriously deteriorated, especially for women and girls,” said Czech Ambassador Václav Bálek on behalf of the European Union, who presented the resolution.

“The restrictive measures put in place by the Taliban make [them]…invisible in Afghan society.”

Council decisions are not legally binding but carry political weight and can lead to official investigations.

Friday’s resolution, backed by dozens of countries, passed without a vote, although the Chinese mission dissented from the outcome, describing it as “unbalanced”. It is one of 11 draft resolutions under consideration on Friday.

Among his supporters was Afghan envoy Mohibullah Taib, appointed by the previous Afghan government, who said the new restrictions amounted to “gender apartheid”.

In rare cases, envoys from governments no longer in power may continue to address UN bodies until a Credentials Committee in New York decides otherwise.

US Ambassador to the council, Michele Taylor, also expressed concern over the recent moves, citing a new policy to punish male family members who do not enforce the restrictions, which creates a environment of “constant fear”.

The resolution foresees a debate in September or October during the next session of the council, in which Afghan women’s rights activists will have the chance to participate.

Marc Limon, of the Universal Rights Group think tank, said the Taliban was unlikely to change course following the conviction, but suggested the UN could have leverage if it tied rights of women in international aid in the future.

– Additional reporting by CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD in Kabul, Afghanistan.


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