Photo: EU-Parlamentet i DK

European Parliament Member: Hazara Women Face Further Oppression Due to Their Ethnic Identity

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Karen Melchior, a Member of the European Parliament, says that Hazara women in Afghanistan face further oppression due to their ethnic identity.

Speaking in the European Parliament yesterday, March 14, Ms. Melchior said, “For Hazara women, their ethnicity adds another layer of oppression and injustice to the already brutal reality they face just by being women.”

She said that dreams of girls have been stolen in Afghanistan, women are confined to their homes, and a generation is suffering under Taliban rule.

This Member of the European Parliament said that while the world watches the situation of Afghan women “transactional” and “silent,” they must continue to speak out about the situation in this country.

She said, “We must not normalize this gender apartheid; history will judge us by our actions, not our words.”

Ms. Melchior added, “Will we be the generation that turned a blind eye? Or are we a generation that fought for Afghan women’s right to learn, right to work, or simply the right to exist?”

The European Parliament yesterday issued a resolution stating that the Taliban have effectively excluded women and girls from public life, which amounts to sexual harassment and gender apartheid.

Members of the European Parliament in this resolution have urged the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls and to cease public punishment of accused individuals.

The European Parliament also supports the comprehensive call by Afghan civil society for accountability of the Taliban for their crimes through investigations by the International Criminal Court by establishing an independent investigation mechanism by the United Nations.

At the same time, Nasir Ahmad Andisha, Afghanistan’s representative to the UN in Geneva, said in a statement supported by delegates from forty countries that the dire situation of women in Afghanistan requires a coordinated response from the global community.

Mr. Andisha presented this statement today, March 15, during the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s open debate.

He stated that the promises made by the Taliban, including respect for human rights, have not been fulfilled, and women and girls still cannot access their fundamental rights.

Mr. Andisha said, “The Commission on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) concluded that due to the widespread and systematic nature [of Taliban’s actions against women,] these actions may amend to gender persecution.”

He added that the systematic and institutionalized suppression of women, as described by experts, particularly by Richard Bennett, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, has been termed “gender apartheid.”

Mr. Andisha emphasized that this situation demands nothing less than a comprehensive accountability from the Taliban.

Richard Bennett also stated in his report presented to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations that the human rights situation in Afghanistan has worsened since his previous report.

During the presentation of his report, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights reiterated that he stands by his previous analysis that the treatment of women in Afghanistan by the Taliban constitutes gender-based persecution and according to the Rome Statute, amounts to “crimes against humanity.”