KABUL – The United Nations in a report on Monday revealed that the Taliban have intensified limitations on women and girls in Afghanistan in recent months, extending into areas like education and employment.
According to the report, the Taliban’s Ministry of Public Health declared that only males would be permitted to pursue specialized medical studies, effectively barring female students from taking exams for graduation. This decision follows the ban on female medical students participating in graduation exams, which was announced in February, and the prohibition on women attending universities, which was issued last December.
The UN report has documented numerous instances where the Taliban enforced restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and employment, consistent with previously announced measures. In one case in early May, two female staff members of an international non-governmental organization were arrested at an airport by Taliban forces because they were traveling without a male companion or mahram.
The report also highlighted an incident in June, where a midwife was detained and interrogated for five hours by the Taliban’s intelligence service, leading to threats of death if she continued her work with an NGO. Consequently, she resigned just two days later.
Furthermore, the Taliban suspended the licenses of two other NGOs due to the presence of female employees in their offices, demonstrating the extent of their crackdown on women’s participation in society.
The UN report also detailed instances of physical violence against women, including an incident in which members of the Taliban’s vice and virtue department beat a woman and forcibly removed her from a public park.
Despite initial assurances of a more moderate rule compared to their previous governance in the 1990s, the Taliban’s current rule has been marked by severe measures since seizing control of Afghanistan in August 2021 when US and NATO forces were withdrawing.
Women have been excluded from most aspects of public life and work, and media freedoms have been severely restricted. The Taliban has forbidden girls from attending school beyond the sixth grade and has banned Afghan women from working in local and non-governmental organizations. This ban was even extended to employees of the United Nations in April, exacerbating the country’s isolation during a time when its economy is in crisis and a humanitarian emergency looms.