Afghan women demand action at UN

Human rights activists say women and girls feel 'abandoned' by international community

Naheed Farid is a former Afghan parliamentarian. Victor Besa / The National
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One year after the Taliban takeover, human rights abuses against women and girls in Afghanistan have increased and they are facing “gender apartheid”, Naheed Farid, a former member of the Afghan parliament, said during a UN press briefing.

“They face daily repression, persecution and insecurity. All of Afghan women, regardless of where they are, feel abandoned by the international community,” Ms Farid told reporters at the UN on Monday.

She appealed to the UN and member states to take all action possible to improve the situation.

Human rights activist Najiba Sanjar, who also addressed reporters, criticised the lack of international aid and support for Afghanistan.

She noted that UN aid is only at 38 per cent of what is needed and said that “there is a lack of transparency and proper accountability mechanisms of the international community's aid management and allocation”.

“What is happening in Afghanistan is unforgivable,” said Ms Sanjar.

Mona Juul, Norway’s permanent representative to the UN and the penholder for Afghanistan at the Security Council, reinforced her country's commitment to the issue, saying women's issues will remain “high on our agenda” — though she intends to continue engaging with the group responsible for their oppression.

“We will continue to engage with the Taliban directly to underscore how girls education and women's participation are fundamental. Not least to respond to the dire humanitarian and economic crisis in the country,” she said.

The Taliban, a hardline Islamist group whose administration is not officially recognised by most governments, have said that girls' schools will remain closed until a plan is drawn up in accordance with Islamic law for them to reopen.

Most girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan have been closed since the Taliban took over in August 2021, and the group made a sudden reversal on promises to reopen them in March.

Afghan women living under Taliban rule — in pictures

Updated: September 12, 2022, 8:58 PM