Amnesty: Taliban’s crackdown on rights is ‘suffocating’ women

The lives of Afghan women and girls are being destroyed by the Taliban’s “stifling” repression since they came to power almost a year ago, Amnesty International said in a statement. report released Wednesday.

After they captured the capital, Kabul, in August 2021 and toppled the internationally backed government, the Taliban presented themselves as moderates from their first time in power in the 1990s. Initially, Taliban officials spoke of allowing the women continue to work and that girls continue with their education.

Instead, they formed an all-male government filled with veterans of their hard-line government that banned girls from attending school from the seventh grade, imposed all-covering clothing that leaves only the eyes visible, and restricted women’s access to the worked.

Amnesty said the Taliban also undermined protections for those facing domestic violence, detained women and girls for minor rapes and contributed to a rise in child marriages. The report also documented the torture and abuse of women arrested by the Taliban for protesting against the restrictions.

“Taken together, these policies form a system of repression that discriminates against women and girls in almost every aspect of their lives,” the report says. “This suffocating crackdown on the female population of Afghanistan is increasing by the day.”

The group’s researchers visited Afghanistan in March as part of a nine-month investigation conducted from September 2021 to June 2022. They interviewed 90 women and 11 girls, ages 14 to 74, across Afghanistan.

They included women detained for protesting who described torture at the hands of Taliban guards, including beatings and death threats.

One woman told Amnesty that guards beat her and other women in the breasts and between the legs, “so we couldn’t show it to the world”. She said one told her, “I can kill you right now, and no one would say anything.”

A college student who was detained said she was given electric shocks to her shoulder, face, neck and other parts, while the Taliban shouted insults at her. One pointed a gun at him and said, “I will kill you and no one will be able to find your body.”

The report says that rates of child, early and forced marriage in Afghanistan are increasing under the Taliban regime.

The increase, Amnesty said, is due to the economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the lack of education and job prospects for women and girls. The report documented cases of forced marriages of women and girls to Taliban members, under pressure from the Taliban member or the women’s families.

A woman from a central province of Afghanistan told Amnesty that she was forced to marry her 13-year-old daughter to a 30-year-old neighbor in exchange for 60,000 Afghans (about US$670). She said she was relieved that her daughter “will no longer be hungry.”

She said she was also considering the same for her 10-year-old daughter, but hoped the girl would be able to get an education and eventually get a job to support the family. “Of course, if they don’t open the school, I’ll have to marry her off,” she added.

“You have a patriarchal government, war, poverty, drought, girls out of school. With all of these factors combined … we knew child marriage would skyrocket,” said Stephanie Sinclair, director of Too Young to Wed. , who was quoted in the report.

The Taliban seized Kabul as US and NATO forces were withdrawing from Afghanistan, ending a nearly 20-year war against the Taliban insurgency. The world has refused to recognize the Taliban’s rule, demanding that they respect human rights and show tolerance towards other groups. The United States and its allies have cut billions in development funds that kept the government afloat, and have frozen billions in Afghan national assets.

This sent the already shattered economy into freefall, dramatically increasing poverty and creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Millions, struggling to feed their families, are being kept alive by a massive UN-led relief effort.

Amnesty called on the international community to take action to protect Afghan women and girls.

“Less than a year after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, their draconian policies are depriving millions of women and girls of their right to lead safe, free and fulfilling lives,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General.

“If the international community does not act, it will abandon women and girls in Afghanistan and undermine human rights everywhere,” he said.

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