Tue, 16 Aug 2022

Geneva [Switzerland], July 1 (ANI): The Human Rights Council (HRC) on Friday held an urgent debate on the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, hearing Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, say that since the Taliban took power, women and girls in Afghanistan were experiencing the most significant and rapid roll-back in the enjoyment of their rights across the board in decades.

Federico Villegas, President of the Council, said that the urgent debate was being held at the request of the European Union and France. He said that discrimination against women was one of the oldest violations of human rights, and it affected more than half of humanity.

Today the Human Rights Council was addressing this situation at a critical time, when there were serious regressions in progress and achievements made on the rights of women and girls across the world, including Afghanistan.

Bachelet said that since the Taliban took power, women and girls in Afghanistan were experiencing the most significant and rapid roll-back in the enjoyment of their rights across the board in decades. "Their future would be even darker unless something changed. The international community was witnessing the progressive exclusion of women and girls from the public sphere and their institutionalised and systematic oppression," the HRC statement said.

The Taliban were a primary duty-bearer in view of Afghanistan's legal obligations under international treaties, including the obligation to eliminate discrimination against women and ensure women's right to equal participation in civic and public life, including politics and decision-making fora.

Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, speaking on behalf of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, said since August 2021, concerns had been raised about the situation of women in Afghanistan and the regression of their rights. He called on the Taliban to create a meaningful dialogue with Afghan women and allow them to fully participate in civil, political and economic life.

The HRC said the Taliban should also respect all women and girls' right to education at all levels, open secondary schools for all children, and ensure that women could play an active part in the workforce and be granted access to health care.

Fawzia Koofi, first woman Vice President of the Afghan Parliament, former member of the peace negotiation team with Taliban and human rights activist, said the urgent debate was a light at the end of the long dark tunnel in which the women of Afghanistan were living.

According to HRC, Afghanistan was suffering from multi-dimensional problems, including humanitarian, economic and political crises. The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan was unique and dire. In the twenty-first century, Afghanistan was the only country where women were second-class and invisible, having to advocate for their basic rights to not be invisible and not to be erased from public life.

Afghanistan, speaking as the country concerned, said reports coming out of Afghanistan indicated that the situation of human rights, particularly those of women and girls, was today worse than anywhere else in the world. The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan demanded nothing less than a robust monitoring mechanism to collect, consolidate and analyse 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 further violations.

In the ensuing discussion, some speakers said that since 15 August 2021, women and girls in Afghanistan had been suffering systematic violations of their rights, directly resulting from the wilful adoption of measures and policies by the Taliban, aiming at erasing them completely from all spheres of public life. Speakers expressed deep concern for the end of schooling for girls, which had major negative effects on the economy and social development, among other spheres.

Some speakers said the critical humanitarian situation was a reflection of the failed military invasion by the United States, with crimes against humanity perpetrated. (ANI)

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