In Afghanistan, women take their lives in desperation, Human Rights Council hears – Global Issues

It comes as the highest UN rights forum in Geneva has agreed to request member states to hold a rare urgent debate on the issue next Friday.

Speaking to the Council, Fawzia Koofi, former deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, said the lack of opportunities and poor mental health are taking a terrible toll: “Every day there is at least one or two women who commit suicide because of the lack of opportunities, for mental health, for the pressure they face

“The fact that girls are sold as young as nine years old, not just because of economic pressures, but because of the fact that there is no hope for them, for their familyIt is not normal.”

Bachelet emphasizes ‘progressive exclusion’

Echoing widespread international concern for ordinary Afghans, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet condemned the mass unemployment of women, restrictions on the way they dress and their access to basic services.

Businesses owned and operated by women have been closed, Ms Bachelet added, saying 1.2 million girls are no longer able to access secondary education, in accordance with a decision by de facto authorities to announce to the government in August 2021. power came.

“The de facto authorities I met during my visit in March this year said they would honor their human rights obligations to the extent that [being] in accordance with Sharia law.

“Yet despite these guarantees, we are witnessing the progressive exclusion of women and girls from the public sphere and their institutionalized, systematic oppression”.

Ms Bachelet encouraged the re-establishment of an independent mechanism to receive complaints from the public and protect victims of gender-based violence.

“Besides being right, it is also a matter of practical necessity”, said the High Commissioner. “Amid the economic crisis, women’s contribution to economic activity is indispensable, which in itself also requires access to education and freedom of movement and violence.”

Women made ‘invisible’

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, also spoke at the Human Rights Council, describing a chilling attempt by the Taliban to make women”invisible, by excluding them almost completely from society

As an example of the authorities’ actual intentions to impose “absolute gender discrimination”, the independent rights expert also noted that women are now represented by men in Loya Jirga. in Kabulor great assembly of religious scholars and elders.

Such measures are contrary to Afghanistan’s obligations under numerous human rights treaties to which the country is a party, emphasized Mr Bennett before adding that the situation for women “has massively reduced women’s lives, deliberately increasing the autonomy, freedom and dignity of women and girls, and creating a culture of impunity for domestic violence, child marriage and the sale and trafficking of girls, to name just a few of the consequences”.

© UNICEF/Sayed Bidel

Girls at school in Herat, Afghanistan.

Promises broken

Despite the Taliban’s public commitments to respect the rights of women and girls, they are step by step reintroducing discrimination against women and girls. Ms. Koofi, a former member of the peace-negotiating team with the Taliban, said that the fundamentalists… “It is clear that they have not kept their promises from what they told us during the negotiations, in terms of their respect for Islamic rights for women.”

Ms. Koofi added: “In fact, what they are doing is contrary to Islam. Our beautiful religion begins with reading. But today, under the name of the same religion, the Taliban deprive 55 percent of society from going to school.”

Afghanistan’s response

For Nasir Andisha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN in Geneva, “the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan requires nothing less than a robust monitoring mechanism to collect, consolidate and analyze evidence of violations, to document and verify information, to identify those responsible to promote accountability and remedies for victims , and to make recommendations for effective prevention of future violations”.

A draft resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan is currently under discussion in the Human Rights Council and will be discussed on 7 July.

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