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Afghanistan: Taliban must stop targeting Afghan women

06 April 2023

GENEVA (6 April 2023) – UN experts* today demanded the immediate reversal of the Taliban’s recent order banning Afghan women from working with the United Nations in Afghanistan.

On 4 April, the de facto authorities prevented women working for the United Nations in Jalalabad from attending their places of work. Yesterday they issued a countrywide ban on Afghan women working with the United Nations. This follows the ban on women working with NGOs, issued on 24 December 2022, and the extensive list of earlier restrictions on women and girls issued since the Taliban took power.

The latest ban is unlawful discrimination against and a direct attack on women, and wholly against the core values and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international human rights treaties to which Afghanistan is a party and humanitarian principles.

The experts reminded the de facto authorities that such a ban on female staff of non-governmental organisations has had a devastating impact on the population and humanitarian operations. The latest ban will further hamper the delivery of critical assistance to millions of Afghans in need of urgent support, with many of the worst impacted being women and girls, they warned.  

“In continuing to target, exclude and isolate women and girls in Afghan society and denying women from working in many professions in Afghanistan, the Taliban is putting at risk the lives of all Afghans and jeopardising the country’s future. The Taliban is once again demonstrating its brazen disregard for women’s rights and their well-being, and the extent to which they will go to remove women from all areas of public life and strip them of their rights and dignity,” the experts said.

“The targeting of women and girls in Afghanistan and denying their fundamental rights because they are women increases concern about gender persecution, a crime against humanity, and those responsible must be held accountable,” they said.

The experts encouraged theinternational community to stand in solidarity with Afghan women and girls and use every possible avenue to convince the Taliban to reverse this unacceptable treatment of women which will have devastating consequences for all Afghan people.

“We call on thede facto authorities to immediately lift the bans on women working with national and international NGOs and the United Nations,” they said.


*The experts: Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; The Working Group on discrimination against women and girlsDorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Reem Alsalem,Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Dr. Alice Jill EdwardsSpecial Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.  

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Dharisha Indraguptha
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