US weighing options to punish the Taliban over women bans 

The US government is contemplating on how to respond to the Taliban’s latest round of assaults on women’s rights. Among the options under consideration by the Biden administration, according to the Washington Post, are “looking at the type and amount of aid being sent via international partners,” or “potentially impose new sanctions [on the Taliban leaders] or other measures to restrict their finances and movements.”

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, warned the Taliban of “consequences”, adding “there are going to be costs if this is not reversed,” after the group banned women from universities. But it didn’t sway the Afghan rulers from announcing their second order two days later, banning women from working for NGOs, which Blinken called “devastating.”

Despite international outrage, Taliban leaders have refused to reverse their decisions, saying that the bans were “necessary to prevent gender mixing” and that they “protect our women’s dignity and honour.”

The ban on women working for NGOs resulted in major international humanitarian organisations suspending their operations in Afghanistan, warning that they could not deliver aid without their female workers. 

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, the UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said that he could not “foresee” aid deliveries resuming unless the group reversed its decision.