Taliban assault on women's rights in Afghanistan continues

Human rights continue to be violated in Afghanistan, particularly those of women, who face strict dress codes and exclusion from certain jobs, while their right to higher education continues to be banned and their freedom of movement restricted
Ahora en paro, una mujer se sienta en casa con sus dos hijas -© ONU MUJERES/Sayed Habib Bidell
Now unemployed, a woman sits at home with her two daughters -© UN WOMEN/Sayed Habib Bidell
  1. Three billion hours of learning lost
  2. Ending rights violations

It has been almost three years since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan and women's rights continue to be under attack. 

On Thursday, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) spokeswoman Liz Throssell revealed that in their latest act of disempowerment, the de facto authorities have told female civil servants that they are prohibited from working regardless of their qualifications or experience, and that their salaries will now be cut to the lowest level.

The Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, in August 2021, and quickly began eroding women's rights, including strict dress codes, banning higher education for girls, excluding women from certain jobs, and more. 

According to Throssell, the country's authorities had told the women that they could return to work when "the necessary conditions" were met, but the women have received no information about when that might be.

Three years later, no steps have been taken to allow all women civil servants to return to work

"This latest discriminatory and deeply arbitrary decision further deepens the erosion of human rights in Afghanistan, following decisions to restrict women's and girls' access to education and employment, limit their freedom of movement and restrict their presence in public spaces, effectively entrenching women's exclusion from public life," said Throssell. 

Three billion hours of learning lost

Thursday also marks 1,000 days since the Taliban banned girls' education beyond the sixth grade, a "sad and sobering milestone" according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 

For 1.5 million girls, this systematic exclusion is not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in diminished opportunities and deteriorating mental health," UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a public statement.

Russell said education not only provides opportunities, but "protects girls from early marriage, malnutrition and other health problems, and strengthens their resilience to disasters such as the floods, drought and earthquakes that often strike Afghanistan".

UN Women recently reported that this ban on education is linked to a 25% increase in child marriage rates and a 45% increase in early childbearing rates. 

The head of UNICEF said the agency is working hard to support all children in Afghanistan. 

Ending rights violations

As human rights violations continue in Afghanistan, independent rights experts are calling on the Taliban to provide medical help to detained US citizen Ryan Corbett.

Corbett was arrested in 2022 when he travelled to Afghanistan for humanitarian work and has been held captive ever since. 

His mental and physical health has seriously deteriorated and Alice Jill Edwards, UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel treatment, has stated that he should receive medical treatment "in a civilian hospital without delay", and that the conditions of detention were "wholly inadequate and substantially below international standards". 

Special Rapporteurs and other human rights experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council are independent of any government, receive no salary for their work and serve in their individual capacity.