KABUL: The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Irene Khan, says the Taliban have completely wiped out public presence of women in Afghanistan.
During the 53rd regular session of the Human Rights Council, Khan highlighted the crucial role of women’s rights groups in promoting gender equality and empowering women.
In her report, Khan stated, “Women’s rights groups play a vital role in the fight for gender equality and empowering women. However, these groups have faced immense pressure as civic space continues to shrink in various countries. The most distressing example is Afghanistan, where the Taliban has completely erased women’s public presence.”
Suraya Paikan, a women’s rights activist, emphasized that women’s presence within ministries or institutions cannot compensate for their lack of equal legal rights. The Permanent Representative of Afghanistan in the United Nations Human Rights Council also criticized the escalating violence against women and girls in the country.
Suraya Azizi, Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to UNOG, asserted, “Since the unlawful takeover of Afghanistan, women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to violence. The Taliban’s rule has normalized gender-based violence, perpetuating systematic discrimination against women and girls. The restrictive environment they face outside their homes has amplified instances of domestic violence.”
Suhail Shaheen, head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, countered the claims by asserting that women were not entirely excluded from the political and social sphere. He stated that some women were employed by Afghan government institutions and would be reassigned to other institutions as needed in the future.