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UN Women: Afghanistan Named World’s Most Oppressive Country for Women


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The United Nations has described Afghanistan as the world’s most repressive of women and girls since the Taliban took control of the country.

In a statement issued to mark International Women’s Day, the UN mission said Afghanistan’s new rulers had shown an “almost unilateral focus on enforcing rules that leave most women and girls virtually trapped in their homes”.

Despite initial promises of a more moderate stance, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since seizing power in August 2021 as US and NATO forces are in the final weeks of their withdrawal from Afghanistan after two decades of war.

They banned the education of girls after the sixth grade and women from public places such as parks and gyms. Women are also prohibited from working for national and international NGOs and are required to cover themselves from head to toe.

“Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world when it comes to women’s rights,” said Rosa Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of Mission in Afghanistan.

“It was heartbreaking to witness their systematic, deliberate and systematic efforts to remove Afghan women and girls from the public sphere,” she added.

The restrictions, particularly the ban on education and the work of NGOs, drew fierce international condemnation.

However, the Taliban showed no signs of backing down, claiming the ban is a temporary suspension allegedly because women were not wearing headscarves properly and because gender segregation rules were not being followed.

Regarding the ban on university education, the Taliban government said that some of the subjects being taught are not in line with Afghan and Islamic values.

“Confining half of the country’s population to their homes in one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm,” Otunbayeva said.

“It will condemn not only women and girls, but all Afghans, to poverty and dependence on aid for generations to come,” she said. “It will further isolate Afghanistan from its own citizens and from the rest of the world.”

In a carpet factory in Kabul, women who were former civil servants or students in high school or university now spend their days weaving rugs.

Broken dreams

said Hafiza, 22, who was using only her first name and who was a first-year law student before the Taliban banned women from attending classes at her university. “The worst situation is when your dreams are shattered, and you are punished for being a woman.”

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan also said it has recorded an almost continuous stream of discriminatory decrees and measures against women since the Taliban’s takeover of women’s right to travel or work outside the confines of their homes and access to places is greatly restricted, and women’s right to travel or work outside has also been restricted. the boundaries of their homes. They were excluded from all levels of public decision-making.

“The implications of the harm the Taliban inflict on their own citizens extend beyond women and girls,” said Alison Davidian, UN Women’s Special Representative to Afghanistan.

No officials from the Taliban-led government could immediately be reached for comment.

At the carpet factory, 18-year-old Shahida, who also uses only one name, said she was in tenth grade at a high school in Kabul when her education was interrupted.

“We only ask the (Taliban) government to reopen schools and educational centers for us and grant us our rights,” she said.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, about 200 Afghan women who are small business owners held an exhibition of their products in Kabul. Most of them complained of losing business since the Taliban seized power.

“I don’t expect the Taliban to respect women’s rights,” said one of them, Tamkeen Rahimi. “Women here can’t exercise their rights and celebrate Women’s Day, because we can’t go to school or university or go to work, so I think we don’t have any day to celebrate.”

The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet later Wednesday with Otunbayeva and representatives of Afghan civil society groups.

According to the statement, 11.6 million Afghan women and girls need humanitarian aid. However, the Taliban further undermines international aid efforts by banning women working for NGOs.

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