UN labels Afghanistan world's most repressive country for women
The United Nations has called Afghanistan the most repressive in the world for women and girls since the Taliban takeover of the country, News.Az reports citing AFP.
In a statement released on International Women’s Day, the U.N. mission said Afghanistan's new rulers have shown an almost "singular focus on imposing rules that leave most women and girls effectively trapped in their homes."
Despite initial promises of a more moderate stance, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since seizing power in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from Afghanistan after two decades of war.
They have banned girls' education beyond the sixth grade and women from public spaces such as parks and gyms. Women are also barred from working at national and international nongovernmental organizations and ordered to cover themselves from head to toe.
"Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights," said Roza Otunbayeva, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general and head of the mission to Afghanistan.
"It has been distressing to witness their methodical, deliberate, and systematic efforts to push Afghan women and girls out of the public sphere," she added.
The restrictions, especially the bans on education and nongovernmental organization (NGO) work, have drawn fierce international condemnation.
However, the Taliban have shown no signs of backing down, claiming the bans are temporary suspensions in place allegedly because women were not wearing headscarves correctly and because gender segregation rules were not being followed.
As for the ban on university education, the Taliban government has said that some of the subjects being taught were not in line with Afghan and Islamic values.
"Confining half of the country’s population to their homes in one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm," Otunbayeva also said.
"It will condemn not only women and girls, but all Afghans, to poverty and aid dependency for generations to come," she said. "It will further isolate Afghanistan from its own citizens and from the rest of the world."
At a carpet factory in Kabul, women who were former government employees, high school or university students now spend their days weaving carpets.