After the political change in the country, human rights, especially the rights of Afghan women and girls, have become a hotly debated issue both within Afghanistan and internationally.
The international community has stated that the involvement of Afghan women in the government and respect for women's rights are conditions for the recognition of the new government.
“In contrary to the Taliban’s commitments, in the last three weeks many women were banned from going to their work and are marginalized. In many areas they are not even allowed to go out of home without a Muharram,” said Michel Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights.
The 100-day mark of the new government is on Tuesday, and international human rights organizations and institutions continue to voice concerns over the widespread reports of violations of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
On September 16, the Islamic Emirate announced its lineup of cabinet members and there were no women in the cabinet. Further, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was suspended and named the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Meanwhile, female students at secondary schools, along with female teachers, were banned from attending school, although male students and teachers were allowed to continue their education.
“In a government, when girls cannot go to school--cannot work--and other citizens cannot work in a safe environment--what kind of government is this?” said Roya Dadras, former spokeswoman for the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
A woman who protested the closing down of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs said: “The ministry of women is the identity of Afghanistan’s women. We are against changing the Ministry of Women's Affairs to the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”
Based on numbers reported by the United Nations, in 2020, 27% of the members of the Parliament's lower house and one-fifth of the former government employees were women, and 5.3 million girls were going to school. But after the political change in the country, women were not only barred from working in the government structure but also the fate of high school girls remains unclear, which has sparked a sustained international reaction. The status of Afghanistan's representation in the UN remains unclear. Suhail Shaheen was proposed by the Islamic Emirate to represent the country at the international body, but his appointment was rejected by the UN.
“The United Nations should give this seat to a person who respects the rights of all in Afghanistan. There is much talk regarding Afghan women, but no one listens to us,” said Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan activist and former MP.
Following strong reactions over the closure of girls' schools in the country, the Ministry of Education said that now girls and young women in grades 7-12 will be allowed to go to school in 8 provinces.
“The issue of the girls' education is very important. We are working on a plan; when completed, we will provide the right environment for girls to pursue their education,” said Nazar Mohammad Irfan, spokesman for the Ministry of Education.
In the meantime, Afghanistan has been removed from the list of countries classified with a "hybrid system" in terms of “backward democracies," and has been placed on the list of authoritarian governments.
The closing of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, the holding of informal courts in some provinces, the uncertain future of university students and the continuance of their education, the limiting of women’s activities, the military confrontations in response to civil protesters, and threats to human rights defenders are the human rights issues over which the international community expresses concern.
“We have not avoided difficult plans with the Taliban, especially about the rights of ethnic minorities, women’s rights, girls’ education and lack of an inclusive government. We have had reports regarding the killings of civilians. Taliban admitted that they made mistakes and said that they will take action and solve it,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan.
How does the Islamic Emirate evaluate the human rights situation in the past 100 days?
Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, said: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is trying to create a good framework and a good working environment for women.”