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EU’s Borrell slams Taliban, calls attention to gender apartheid

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KABUL – In a recent address in Brussels, Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed unease over the situation in Afghanistan, characterizing the Taliban’s rule as an “awful dictatorship” and drawing attention to the issue of “gender apartheid” in the country.

Borrell underscored his concerns about the apparent absence of media coverage on Afghanistan, emphasizing the prevalence of gender-based discrimination under the Taliban’s governance. He specifically labeled the situation as “gender apartheid,” pointing out the restrictions imposed on women and girls’ access to education in the country, which he described as being under the control of an “awful dictatorship.”

During the Brussels event, Borrell stated, “In Afghanistan, there exists a gender apartheid. Women and girls are deprived of access to schools, and an awful dictatorship is governing the country.”

For over two years, women and girls in Afghanistan have faced stringent restrictions imposed by the Taliban, affecting their educational opportunities and employment, while subjecting them to various social constraints.

Despite the suppression of street protests, Afghan women critical of Taliban policies continue to voice their dissent in small, indoor gatherings. In a recent protest, a group of girls lamented the erosion of their identity by the Taliban, detailing the deprivation of basic rights and mental anguish.

Reports indicate that at least four women’s rights activists, including Zhulia Parsi, Neda Parwani, Manijha Sediqi, and Parisa Azada, are currently held in Taliban prisons, with their status and fate remaining unclear. The latest Human Rights Watch report suggests that additional unnamed women’s rights activists and directors of underground schools are also in Taliban custody.

Women’s rights activist Farida Mohib has called on the international community to support Afghan women in danger, urging pressure on the Taliban for the immediate release of detained individuals.

The Taliban is facing accusations of widespread human rights violations, particularly against women and girls. Independent institutions report not only violations of women’s rights but also the detention, mistreatment, and threats against protesting women, allegations consistently denied by the Taliban.

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