“If you were waiting for a couple of years to see how the Taliban would perform, we now have a pretty good idea. We can see that they have moved, step by step, back towards how they ran the country in their first period in power,” says UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, in this episode.
The human rights expert, and colleagues, have released a series of reports in recent months detailing how freedoms in the South Asian nation have been constrained, especially for women and girls, after the Taliban assumed power almost exactly two years ago, as forces from the US and other western powers exited the country. Since then, says the special rapporteur, the Taliban, which calls its government an “Islamic emirate”, have announced about 60 decrees concerning women, all but one of which has further restricted their movement.
While the smothering of women’s lives has received the most attention outside of Afghanistan, there does not appear to be any improvement in the humanitarian situation, and it could get worse as winter approaches, says Bennett. “The key humanitarian agencies… report that there is still widespread food insecurity, including child malnutrition. Millions of people in Afghanistan are still dependent on humanitarian assistance, including for food.”
It is time that the international community acts on its condemnation of the Taliban’s actions, stresses the special rapporteur. If the documented violations of human rights are not compelling enough, then governments should consider that Afghanistan could become a breeding ground for terrorism.
Bennett has also suggested that the Taliban’s actions against women and girls could be treated as gender persecution, which is considered a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court. And he noted that some Afghan women are pressing for the definition of the crime of ‘apartheid’ to be expanded to include ‘gender apartheid’.
Please listen now to my chat with Richard Bennett.
Strive on social media
Richard Bennett's report on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, June 2023
International Criminal Court