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Urgent Call for Action: Confronting Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

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In the aftermath of the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, the world has witnessed a harrowing regression in women's rights, encapsulated by what many are now calling a gender apartheid regime


While the international community grapples with the severity of this crisis, Afghan women have protested in rare displays of defiance, demanding their rights despite facing brutal crackdowns. 


The Unfolding Gender Apartheid 


Since the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, over 60 decrees have been enacted, severely restricting women's freedoms including access to education, employment, and public spaces


Among these restrictions is the ban on girls beyond grade six from attending schools and universities, while stringent dress codes and limitations on movement further exacerbate the oppression faced by Afghan women


The regime's "vice and virtue" morality police enforce these edicts, punishing women who fail to adhere to the prescribed norms. This systematic suppression of women's rights has led to Afghanistan being labeled the worst place in the world for women, as they endure discrimination at every level of society. 


The dismantling of institutions such as the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has left a significant void in monitoring and safeguarding women's rights, exacerbating their vulnerability to violence and discrimination. 


These measures amount to crimes against humanity, as recognized by international human rights organizations. The situation in Afghanistan underscores the urgent need for concerted action to combat gender apartheid and ensure the protection and empowerment of Afghan women.


The Brave Faces of Resistance 


Despite facing grave risks, Afghan women have displayed remarkable courage by staging protests against the Taliban's oppressive regime,  particularly on International Women’s Day. In defiance of brutal crackdowns and reprisals, these women have gathered in small groups, demanding the reversal of harsh restrictions imposed by the Taliban. 


Their actions symbolize a steadfast determination to reclaim their rights and freedoms in the face of adversity. These protests, often held in private spaces due to the risks involved, serve as powerful reminders of the resilience and resilience of Afghan women. 


Despite the constant threat of violence and intimidation, these brave women refuse to remain silent. Through their activism, they challenge the status quo and assert their right to equality and dignity.


International Calls for Action 


The international community has been prompted to action by the dire situation faced by Afghan women under the Taliban's oppressive rule. Initially hopeful for the Taliban's compliance with women's rights, Western nations, spearheaded by the US, have come to realize the regime’s blatant disregard for such concerns. To challenge the Taliban's oppressive policies and safeguard the rights of Afghan women, diplomatic pressure, targeted sanctions, and support for grassroots movements have been advocated. 


Furthermore, criticism has been directed towards the existing legal framework for its failure to adequately address the systematic oppression experienced by women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran under Taliban and Mullah rule. 


Despite mounting concerns over gender-based segregation and oppression, current international legal instruments primarily address apartheid in the context of race-based oppression. In response to this gap, Afghan and Iranian women have taken the lead in calling for an expansion of the definition of apartheid to encompass gender-based discrimination. 


Their advocacy efforts culminated in the convening of the Gender Apartheid Inquiry in January 2024, prompted by increasing apprehensions over the plight of women and girls in these countries. The inquiry highlighted the urgent need for the formal recognition of the treatment of Afghan and Iranian women and girls as gender apartheid


Additionally, it stressed the importance of implementing practical measures to alleviate the unimaginable suffering endured by women and girls in these regions. This collective call to action aims to ensure that comprehensive responses are formulated to address the multifaceted challenges faced by women and girls under oppressive regimes, thereby paving the way for meaningful assistance and sustainable change. 


Concerted efforts are needed to hold the Taliban accountable for their crimes against humanity and to ensure the protection and empowerment of Afghan women. By standing in solidarity with Afghan women and supporting their struggle for justice and freedom, the international community can help bring an end to the gender apartheid regime in Afghanistan.



Edited by: Aadrita Halder 


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1 comment

2 months ago by leyreojer

Among all the wars and conflits taking place right now, we forget about the suffering of afghan citizens, and mainly women… thank you for such an eye opening article!

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