19 August 2022
The return of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan marked its first year on Monday, the 15th of August 2022. Despite their commitment to reform their fundamentalist policies and to respect human rights, particularly the rights of women and children after the takeover, little has changed, rather the situation of women and children has further been aggravated pushing them into a more precarious situation.
Afghans are denied their fundamental rights such as the right to education, right to work, right to association and right to dissent. The Taliban has curtailed the freedom of expression, restricting civic space for human rights, democracy and peace. Women and girls have suffered the most as a result of this deprivation, which has eroded their economic, social, cultural, and civil liberties. The dire economic situation, combined with a lack of employment opportunities and a food crisis, is forcing families to sell their young daughters, leading to a spiralling increase in extreme violations of the rights of girls and women and their sexual and reproductive health rights.
The girls are denied their right to higher education. When the Taliban came to power, they promised a more moderate rule for women than their previous reign, which lasted from 1996 to 2001. However, many restrictions have been placed on women for them to conform to their interpretation of Islam. Tens of thousands of girls have been prevented from attending secondary school, with the ban resulting in 46% of young women not attending school.
There has been a huge setback to the rights of women and children. The Taliban's regulation for women to cover their entire body in public was also reinstated. The Taliban has also made it illegal for women to travel alone without a male chaperone, effectively confining many of them to their homes. They have been barred from returning to many government jobs, leaving women unemployed in an unstable economy.
Twenty-three million Afghans are on the verge of starvation, and one million children face death if life-saving treatment is not provided immediately. The skyrocketing prices of food, fuel and other essential goods have made the lives of the Afghans more miserable taking them further to the state of destitution and extreme hunger.
We denounce the recent cowardly act of the Taliban on women who were peacefully protesting against the oppressive rules of the Taliban on Saturday, the 13th of August 2022. Taliban fighters beat female protesters and fired guns into the air to disperse a rally in Kabul, who were peacefully rallying for their rights and dignity.
We demand that all working women should be allowed to resume their jobs and their unhindered participation in governance and public life is to be guaranteed.
We also urge the Taliban regime to guarantee the safety and security of human rights defenders and allow for voluntary organisations to function smoothly.
We demand that the United Nations and the international community take immediate and sincere efforts to resolve the social, economic and political crises which have brought tragic humanitarian devastation to Afghanistan. While we press for the restoration of civil and political rights in Afghanistan, we are against an indiscriminate cutting off or freezing of funds by the international community without paying due attention to the plight of the people of Afghanistan. At the same time, we urge the international community, the United Nations and the governments providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to negotiate for basic civil liberties of the Afghans. Learning from the good practices of fellow South Asian countries, we call for the implementation of innovative approaches, such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) for provisioning subsidised food grains, mid-day meals for children, and community health and nutrition centres, for solving the humanitarian crisis plaguing Afghanistan.
We call upon the SAARC to play a constructive role in facilitating an effective supply of foodgrains from neighbouring countries to solve the food crisis in Afghanistan. Particularly, SAARC’s role in ending the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is of utmost importance with a larger goal towards reinstating the civil and political rights of the people of Afghanistan.
On behalf of SAAPE,