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Women Protest in Afghanistan On Eve of UN Anti-Violence Day

Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a group of women activists gathered in Kabul for a brief protest. They urged human rights organizations and the international community to pressure the Taliban to uphold human rights, end misogynistic policies, and allow women to pursue education.

Every year on November 25th, the world observes the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. This day aims to raise awareness about the various forms of violence that women face, including domestic violence and rape. It also highlights the true extent and often overlooked nature of this global issue. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is followed by a global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a critical time to reflect on, renew efforts, amplify voices, and develop strategies to achieve the goal of eradicating violence against women by 2030.

In a post on X marking the day, the United Nations emphasized that all girls and women must be permitted to exercise their full human rights in a safe environment without fear of violence or persecution. “Violence against women is a horrific violation of human rights, a public health crisis, and a major obstacle to sustainable development,” the UN said.

UN Women reports that approximately 736 million women, representing nearly one-third of the global female population, have encountered physical or sexual violence from a partner, sexual violence outside of a partner, or both, at least once in their lives. These data do not include sexual harassment. More than four out of five women and girls (86%) live in countries without strong legal protection or in countries where data are not easily accessible. According to the UN, violence against women and girls remains the most widespread human rights violation in the world, affecting one in three women a figure largely unchanged over the past 10 years.

Soon after seizing power, the Taliban promised to respect women’s rights. However, the group has significantly cracked down on women and girls in the past two years of its rule, imposing curbs on women’s movements and denying them education, employment, social mobility, and other freedoms. Despite this, small groups of women have organized brief protests, which are often severely suppressed, sometimes with violence.

The international community and human rights organizations have persistently pushed the Taliban to reverse policies and practices that are restricting the human rights of Afghans, particularly those of women and girls. The regime in Kabul has defended its policies, saying they are in line with Afghan culture and Islamic laws.

Women’s rights activists and members of the “Afghanistan Women’s Movement for Justice and Freedom” have condemned the Taliban’s oppressive rule, describing Afghanistan as a prison for women and girls. They point to a surge in mysterious murders, suicides, domestic violence, forced marriages, and the sale of young girls since the Taliban’s takeover and emphasize that they will never surrender to the barbaric “injustice and violence” of the Taliban and will fight and strive until they get their legitimate rights.