July 2022 Newsletter Newsletter

Amnesty Talk – Women and Girls in Afghanistan

Nigina Istanakzai-Zarifi presented a powerful, passionate and moving statement of the situation now faced by Afghan women and girls, and of the failure of the international community to address it. She said that from the moment the Taliban entered Kabul, life for women and girls changed and, of course, it is worse in the provinces where everyone knows each other and it is easy to locate those who speak out against the Taliban. 

The Taliban have banned women from working outside their home, banned girls’ education after year six, made head-to-toe burqa mandatory for women, and denied women their right to political participation as well as their social, economic and cultural rights. Recently, they have asked male doctors not to provide health services to women unless accompanied by a male relative and have asked taxi drivers not to carry women passengers beyond 45 kilometres unless accompanied by a male relative or if they are not wearing a niqab (which covers the face but not the eyes).

Addressing the discrimination and restrictions which women and girls experience, Nigina argued, has to be a priority for the international community who failed the Afghan people as they retreated from the country, and continue to do so in the slow development of safe routes to leave for those at risk. Many at-risk women and girls have effectively been abandoned.  
Nigina’s recommendations include: foreign delegations meeting with the Taliban should include women at a senior level and should continue to aggressively encourage the Taliban to create an inclusive government with the meaningful political participation of Afghan women; the Taliban should be pressured to recommit that all girls will be able to return to school; donor countries should fund directly Afghan women-led organisations; and the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan should fully operationalise its recent mandate renewal by maintaining a strong focus on human rights including addressing gender-based violence by improving its reporting and prosecution, and the provision of shelters.