• Tuesday, Dec 07, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:26 pm

OP-ED: No country for a woman

  • Published at 05:31 am August 17th, 2021
afghanistan afghan women
What is their future? REUTERS

The world must not look away as the Taliban enslaves women and girls in Afghanistan

Since the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan in July, the Taliban have swiftly taken control of large parts of the country. The president has fled and the government has fallen.

Emboldened by their success, lack of resistance by Afghan forces, and minimal international pressure, the Taliban have intensified their violence. For Afghan women, their increasing power is terrifying.

In early July, after Taliban leaders who took control of the provinces of Badakhshan and Takhar issued an order to local religious leaders to provide them with a list of girls over the age of 15 and widows under the age of 45 for “marriage” with Taliban fighters. It’s not yet known whether they’ve complied.

If these forced marriages take place, women and girls will be taken to Waziristan in Pakistan to be re-educated and converted to “authentic Islam.”

This order has caused profound fear among women and their families living in these areas and forced them to flee and join the ranks of internally displaced persons, adding to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Afghanistan. In the past three months alone, 900,000 people have been displaced.

Reminiscent of brutal Taliban rule

This Taliban directive serves as a stark warning of what lies ahead and a harsh reminder of their brutal 1996-2001 regime during which women were subjected to persistent human rights violations, denied employment and education, forced to wear the burqa, and forbidden from leaving home without a male “guardian” or mahram.

Despite claiming they’ve changed their stance on women’s rights, the Taliban’s actions and latest efforts to commit thousands of women to sexual slavery demonstrate quite the opposite; the Taliban have signalled their intention to deny girls’ education past the age of 12, to ban women from employment, and reinstate the law requiring women to be accompanied by a guardian.

The gains made by Afghan women over the past 20 years, particularly in education, employment, and political participation, are under grave threat.

Offering “wives” is a strategy aimed at luring militants to join the Taliban. This is sexual enslavement, not marriage, and forcing women into sexual slavery under the guise of marriage is both a war crime and a crime against humanity. Article 27 of the Geneva Convention states:

“Women must be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any other form of indecent assault.”

In 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1820 declaring that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity.” It recognizes sexual violence as a tactic of war intent on humiliating, dominating, and instilling fear in civilian members of the community.

How to fight back

The UN must now act decisively to prevent further atrocities against women in Afghanistan.

I propose four policy actions for the international community to bring about sustainable peace. They’re guided by Resolution 1820 that underscores the importance of including women as equal participants in the peace process and condemns all forms of gendered violence against civilians in armed conflict:

  • Calling for an immediate ceasefire to ensure the peace process can proceed in good faith
  • Ensuring that women’s rights  -- enshrined in Afghanistan’s Constitution, national legislation, and international law -- are respected
  • Insisting that peace negotiations continue with meaningful participation of Afghan women. Currently, there are only four women peace negotiators on the Afghan government’s team and none on the Taliban’s
  • Lifting sanctions against the Taliban must be conditional on their commitment to uphold women’s rights. The European Union and the United States, currently the largest donors to Afghanistan, must make aid conditional upon women’s rights and their access to education and employment

Women in Afghanistan and across the region would welcome efforts by the UN and the international community to ensure that survivors of sexual violence have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice.

There must be no impunity for acts of sexual violence as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking sustainable peace, justice and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Vrinda Narain is an Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism; Max Bell School of Public Policy, McGill University. A version of this article first appeared in The Conversation UK and has been reprinted under special arrangement.

201
Facebook 201
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail