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A Dozen Foreign Ministers Call on Taliban to End Women’s Persecution

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Foreign ministers from 12 countries express their concerns about the ongoing human rights violations of women and girls in Afghanistan. They urge the Taliban to put an end to the systematic gender persecution in the country.

Issuing a statement in the Munich Security Conference 2024, on Saturday, February 17th, foreign ministers from France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and eight other countries, mostly European, emphasized that the Taliban’s violations of the rights of women and girls could amount to crimes against humanity.

Mongolia, Andorra, and Canada were the only non-European countries who signed the statement.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan two and a half years ago, the group has severely restricted women and girls’ access to their basic rights, including to get an education, seek employment, or travel.

Some international legal experts and human rights defenders have characterized the conditions as constituting institutionalized gender apartheid.

The statement at MSC came day a day ahead of the UN meeting in Doha where representatives from various countries were gathered to discuss a coherent international response to the political and human rights crises in Afghanistan.

The Munich Security Conference, once a prime stage for international discussion on Afghanistan, had no official representative of the country this year nor any focused event discussing it.

The foreign ministers noted in their statement that since their previous gathering at the Munich Security Conference in 2023, the Taliban have shown no progress on the protection of human rights in Afghanistan, particularly the fundamental rights of women and girls in all their diversity.

“The Taliban are responsible for one of the most dire and appalling human rights situations worldwide. By eliminating half of the Afghan population from public life and political decision-making, they put the very future of Afghanistan into jeopardy,” part of the statement reads.

The like-minded foreign ministers urged the Taliban to adhere fully to international law, especially human rights law, to protect the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including ethnic and religious minorities. They also called for the reversal of all decisions that impose restrictions on the fundamental rights of women and girls.

The internationally isolated and unrecognized regime, despite repeated calls from the international community and human rights organizations, including Islamic countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to respect international laws and the fundamental rights of women and girls, has yet to show any sign of reversing its misogynistic policies.

In response to the ministers’ concerns, the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed that under their rule, the rights of all Afghans, including women, are protected.

A recent joint report by the UN Women, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that an absolute majority of women in Afghanistan (67%) believe that any prospect of Taliban’s recognition will adversely affect their situation in the country.