A team of UN experts said on Friday that the latest actions by Afghanistan's Taliban authorities against women and girls may amount to “gender persecution, a crime against humanity” and should be investigated and prosecuted under international law.
“In recent months, violations of women and girls’ fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, already the most severe and unacceptable in the world, have sharply increased,” read the statement.
The group of experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said the Taliban's actions against women and girls have deepened existing rights abuses, already the “most draconian globally”.
The expert team does not speak for the UN but is mandated to report their findings to the global body.
When the Taliban regime seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, it began limiting the rights of women and girls.
Earlier this month, the Taliban's morality policy banned women from visiting parks in the capital Kabul, in part because they had not been adhering to the country's strict dress code during their visits.
The experts stressed that confining women to their homes is tantamount to “imprisonment and is likely leading to increased levels of domestic violence and mental health challenges”.
“We are deeply concerned that such actions are intended to compel men and boys to punish women and girls who resist the Taliban’s erasure of them, further depriving them of their rights and normalising violence against them,” it said.
The experts added that there have been cases of the Taliban beating men accompanying women who were wearing colourful clothing or without a face covering.
They urged the Taliban to fully comply with human rights standards and to respect the rights of all girls and women to education and employment. They also called on the group to release activists from detention.
“Activist Zarifa Yaquobi and four men remain detained by the Taliban’s intelligence department,” the statement said. “We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the arrested human rights defenders, and remind the Taliban that arresting people for exercising their fundamental rights is unlawful and constitutes arbitrary detention.”