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Taliban assault on women’s rights continues in Afghanistan

Taliban assault on women’s rights continues in Afghanistan

On Thursday, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) spokesperson Liz Throssell revealed that in its latest act of disempowerment, de facto authorities have told women civil servants prohibited from working that despite qualifications or experience, their salaries will now be cut to the lowest level.

The Taliban overtook Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in August 2021, and quickly began eroding women’s rights, including strict dress codes, banning higher education for girls, excluding women from certain jobs, and more.  

According to Ms. Throssell, authorities had told women they could return to work when “the necessary conditions” are in place, yet women have not received any information on when that might be.

Three years on, steps to allow women civil servants to all return to the workplace have not been taken.

This latest discriminatory and profoundly arbitrary decision further deepens the erosion of human rights in Afghanistan, following decisions to restrict women and girls’ access to education and employment, limit their freedom of movement, and curtail their presence in public spaces, effectively entrenching the exclusion of women from public life,” Ms. Throssell said.  

‘Three billion learning hours lost’ 

Thursday also marks 1,000 days since the Taliban banned education for girls beyond the sixth grade – a “sad and sobering milestone” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

Executive Director Catherine Russell said “For 1.5 million girls, this systematic exclusion is not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health” in a public statement.

Ms. Russell said that education not only provides opportunities but it “protects girls from early marriage, malnutrition and other health problems, and bolsters their resilience to disasters like the floods, drought, and earthquakes that frequently plague Afghanistan.”

UN Women recently reported that this ban on education is related to a 25 per cent increase in child marriage rates and a 45 per cent increase in early childbearing rates. 

The UNICEF chief said the agency is working extensively to support all children in Afghanistan. 

End rights violations 

As human rights continue to be violated in Afghanistan, independent rights experts are calling on the Taliban to provide medical aid for United States national Ryan Corbett who is being held in detention.

Mr. Corbett was detained in 2022 when he travelled to Afghanistan to do humanitarian work and has been held captive since.  

His mental and physical health has severely declined and Alice Jill Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel treatment, said he must be given medical treatment “in a civilian hospital without delay”. 

She said conditions in detention were “utterly inadequate and substantially below international standards.” 

Special Rapporteurs and other UN Human Rights Council-appointed rights experts are independent of any government, receive no salary for their work and serve in their individual capacity. 

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