Death in slow motion for women and girls under Taliban rule: Amnesty

New Delhi, July 27: In less than a year after taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban has decimated the rights of women and girls in the country.

It has taken away women and girls' rights to education, work and free movement while imposing discriminatory rules. Moreover, women who peacefully protested against these restrictions and policies have been harassed, threatened, arrested, arbitrarily detained and tortured, Amnesty International said in a report titled 'Afghanistan: Death in slow motion: Women and girls under Taliban rule'
released on Wednesday.

After the US fled Afghanistan in August, last year, the new regime, which has always been known for its regressive ideology, assured the world of honoring women's rights within the norms of Islamic law. It started off by speaking about allowing women to work and pursue education, but it failed to keep its words as it formed an all-male government and introduced policies of systematic discrimination that violate their rights.

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Draconian policies Depriving Women and Girls of their right to Lead Safe lives
"Less than one year after the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, their draconian policies are depriving millions of women and girls of their right to lead safe, free and fulfilling lives," said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

"Taken together, these policies form a system of repression that discriminates against women and girls in almost every aspect of their lives. Every daily detail - whether they go to school, if and how they work, if and how they leave the house - is controlled and heavily restricted.

"This suffocating crackdown against Afghanistan's female population is increasing day-by-day. The international community must urgently demand that the Taliban respect and protect the rights of women and girls."

How Protesters are Silenced?
The draconian policies were met with protests, but to silence the voices, the Taliban targeted protesters with harassment and abuse, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and physical and psychological torture.

"[The Taliban guards] kept coming to my room and showing me pictures of my family. They kept repeating... 'We can kill them, all of them, and you won't be able to do anything... Don't cry, don't make a scene. After protesting, you should have expected days like this," a protester, who was arrested and detained for several days in 2022, told Amnesty International.

The same woman claimed about a Taliban member screaming at her saying the US is not giving money to the Taliban due to the protests.

After some women posted photos of protesters' injuries on social media, Taliban members developed a new strategy to stop them from showing their injuries publicly.

A woman said, "We were beaten on our breasts and between the legs. They did this to us so that we couldn't show the world. A soldier who was walking next to me hit me in my breast, and he said, 'I can kill you right now, and no one would say anything'. This happened every time we went out: we were insulted - physically, verbally, and emotionally."

We keep naughty women at home says Taliban while promising good news soon

The protesters, who were detained, had inadequate access to food, water, ventilation, sanitary products and health care. To secure their release, the women were forced to sign agreements that they and their family members would neither protest again, nor speak publicly about their experiences in detention.

One university student, who was detained in 2022, told Amnesty International that she was threatened and beaten after being arrested on charges related to the mahram restrictions.

She said that Taliban members "started giving me electric shocks... on my shoulder, face, neck, everywhere they could... They were calling me a prostitute [and] a bitch... The one holding the gun said, 'I will kill you, and no one will be able to find your body'."

Child and Forced Marriages
As per Amnesty International's research, the rates of child, early and forced marriage in Afghanistan are surging under Taliban rule.

The main factors for the increase include the economic and humanitarian crisis; the lack of educational and professional prospects for women and girls; and Taliban members forcing women and girls to marry them.

A 35-year-old from a central province of Afghanistan told Amnesty International that the financial issues forced her to marry off her 13-year-old daughter to a 30-year-old neighbour in September 2021, in exchange for a 'bride price' of 60,000 Afghanis (around US$670). She said that after her daughter's marriage, she felt relieved and added: "She won't be hungry anymore."

The woman further said that she was also considering marrying off her 10-year-old daughter, but was reluctant to do so, as she hoped this daughter might provide for the family in the future. She explained: "I wanted her to study more. She would be able to read and write, and speak English, and earn... I have a hope that this daughter will become something, and she will support the family. Of course, if they don't open the school, I will have to marry her off."

Don't let the Taliban suppress girls' education

Stephanie Sinclair, director of Too Young to Wed, an organization working on child, early and forced marriage, explained: "In Afghanistan, it's a perfect storm for child marriage. You have a patriarchal government, war, poverty, drought, girls out of school - with all of these factors combined... we knew child marriage was going to go through the roof."

Amnesty International researchers visited Afghanistan in March 2022. The comprehensive investigation was conducted from September 2021 to June 2022 and includes interviews with 90 Afghan women and 11 girls, aged between 14 and 74 years old, living in 20 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

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