Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

UN Women: Taliban actions should be labelled as gender apartheid

Kabul, 27 September, 2023(GNP): The head of UN agency stated on Tuesday that the governments seeking to “formally” label the Taliban regime’s crackdown on women as “gender apartheid” needed endorsement from the UN’s most powerful body-the Security Council.

Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, informed the Security Council that more than 50 Taliban orders, with some being strictly implemented by male family members, had become increasingly severe recently. This severity, especially impacting young women, has led to deteriorated health, suicidal thoughts, and a diminished ability for women to make decisions, even within their own households.

Bahous urged the 15-member body, including the five permanent members—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France—to give gender apartheid a specific recognition through an intergovernmental procedure. However, international law does not yet exist to address “mass, state-sponsored gender oppression,” according to Bahous.

She claimed that the Taliban’s “systemic and planned assault on women’s rights” needed to be named, defined, and proscribed in global norms so that an appropriate response could be formulated. On the penultimate day of the annual gathering of global leaders at the 193-member UN General Assembly, the Security Council held a hearing on the most recent report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Afghanistan.

According to Bahous, UN Women interviewed more than 500 Afghan women in conjunction with the UN International Office for Migration and the UN Political Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

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She cited some of their significant results, including the following:

  • 46% believed that the Taliban should never be recognized, and 50% believed that they should only be recognized when they had restored the rights of women and girls to school, work, and political engagement.
  • The limitations placed on women had increased child labor, child marriage, and mental health difficulties.
  • 90% of young women surveyed reported having poor or very poor mental health. Whereas suicidal ideas had been rampant due to increasing crackdown on women employment by Taliban.

The head of UNAMA and special envoy of the UN for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, welcomed the recent visit to Afghanistan by a delegation of Islamic scholars from OIC member countries to discuss the importance of inclusive government, girls’ education, and women’s rights.

She also emphasized the importance of continuing these diplomatic missions as a vital channel for dialogue between the de facto authorities in Kabul and the international community. This dialogue had been effectively facilitated by the Islamic world.

Moreover, When asked whether any changes in the Taliban’s strict policies regarding women’s rights and government operations were possible as long as its leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, had the final say, she revealed that a Cabinet member had conveyed that over 90% of its members supported allowing girls to study. However, these views were thwarted as soon as they reached the southern city of Kandahar, where Akhundzada held his base.