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Watchdog urges UN to address abuse against Afghan women

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KABUL – Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations to renew their commitment to human rights and rights of women and girls in its independent assessment of Afghanistan crisis. The watchdog urged the UN body to address the growing abuses against women’s rights and hold accountable those responsible.

Heather Barr, the associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, emphasized the severity of the women’s rights crisis in Afghanistan. Urgent action is required to address the dire situation faced by women, girls, and other survivors of rights violations.

According to the watchdog organization, since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, women and girls have been deprived of most of their rights. The Taliban has enforced restrictions such as banning girls and women from education beyond the sixth grade, limiting employment opportunities, and imposing severe travel restrictions.

HRW reported that women and girls have been excluded from sports and subjected to gender-based violence, with harsh crackdowns on protests. The ban on women’s employment, including in international organizations like the UN, has resulted in reduced access to much-needed humanitarian assistance for the 28.8 million people in need of food aid in the country.

The human rights crisis in Afghanistan extends beyond women’s rights, encompassing other abuses and hardships for the Afghan population. Journalists and critics have been unjustly imprisoned, detainees tortured, and the LGBT community targeted and forced into hiding. Additionally, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province continues to carry out deadly attacks on civilians, particularly targeting the Shia and Hazara communities.

Human Rights Watch urged the special coordinator, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, to ensure that experts on human rights, especially women’s and girls’ rights, are included in the assessment process. Transparency is essential, and all stakeholders should be allowed to provide submissions. The assessment should actively seek input from those who have experienced human rights violations and consult with women’s rights defenders, minorities, LGBT Afghans, journalists, and local humanitarian groups.

Barr stressed that the independent assessment should not only restore global attention to the situation in Afghanistan but also propose concrete measures to hold the Taliban and other rights violators accountable.

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