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Rights Groups Call on UNHRC for Action Against Taliban’s Gender-Based Persecution

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) have jointly appealed to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), urging urgent attention to the ongoing gender-based persecution by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In a joint submission for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Afghanistan, the rights groups emphasized that the Taliban’s misogynistic edicts and stringent restrictions have resulted in severe marginalization and exclusion of women and girls in all their diversity, similar to apartheid on racial grounds in South Africa.

Since their resurgence to power, the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women’s rights have established one of the world’s most oppressive regimes for women. Although the regime insists that the ban is temporary, there has been no discernible progress in creating the conditions they claim are necessary for women and girls to resume schooling or attend universities over the past two and half years.

Taliban defines women’s rights in accordance with their strict interpretation of Islamic law and has shown no sign of bending amid mounting backlash and pressure to respect the rights of women under international human rights law.

In October 2023, the UNHRC adopted a resolution condemning all human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by the Taliban. The resolution expressed “serious concern about the grave, institutionalized, widespread, and systematic oppression of all women and girls in Afghanistan.”

The rights groups stated that Widespread and systematic abuses and violations of human rights in Afghanistan, in particular of the rights of women and girls, have been widely documented, analyzed and reported on by the UN and civil society organizations.

“Their findings point to the recognition that amongst many violations committed, those based on gender discrimination amount to gender persecution, a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to which Afghanistan is a state party,” they stated.

The rights groups further argue that employing an apartheid framework implicates not only the Taliban but also all countries and international actors that interact with them.

They urged the UN Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing gender persecution and gender apartheid in Afghanistan. They further said that the institutionalized gender-based discrimination, segregation, and oppression imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan must be recognized and explicitly named for what it clearly is: gender apartheid. “And there must be consequences, based on precedent from apartheid on racial grounds in South Africa,” they emphasized.

They called on the Taliban to immediately rescind all their misogynistic restrictions and edicts that discriminate against, dehumanize, and segregate women and girls in many aspects of public and private life. Furthermore, they urged compliance with all recommendations they have received from UN human rights experts, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other relevant actors, emphasizing that the Taliban’s relentless and blatant disregard of Afghanistan’s human rights obligations must not be tolerated.