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UN expert takes umbrage at Taliban’s “gender persecution”

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KABUL: A UN’s top expert on human rights in Afghanistan on Monday lambasted the Taliban for its systematic abuses against Afghan women, urging countries to hold the Taliban accountable for their “gender persecution”.

“Grave, systematic and institutionalized discrimination against women and girls is at the heart of Taliban ideology and rule,” Richard Bennett told the UN Human Rights Council.

Presenting his latest report, the UN special rapporteur on the situation in Afghanistan told the council that the Taliban’s actions could constitute the crime against humanity of “gender persecution”.

“Such serious human rights violations require further study,” he insisted, urging other countries and the broader international community to take effective action to end the practice.

“Women often talk about being buried alive, breathing, but not being able to do much else without facing restrictions and punishments,” said Shaharzad Akbar, the head of the Rawadari rights group and former head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

The UN has already labelled the situation in Afghanistan under the Taliban as “gender-based apartheid”, but the term is not currently recognized under the Rome Statute among the worst international crimes.

This should be done, the report said, “with a view to developing further normative standards and tools, galvanizing international legal condemnation and action to end it and ensure its non-repetition”.

A number of country representatives also voiced support for the idea Monday.

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