Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the Taliban takeover. Here, a Staff Correspondent for JURIST in Kabul reports on the international community’s reactions to the Taliban’s new restrictions on women’s daily lives. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding his name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
The Taliban-led Afghan government issued a new religious code a few days ago imposing severe restrictions on women’s daily lives that has invited criticism and condemnation from the international community including opposing world powers, Russia and the US.
These restrictions included prohibitions on women from traveling greater than 45 miles (approx. 72 km) without a male companion or while not wearing a hijab. Additionally, public and private transportation employees have been instructed to take action whenever they encounter women not adhering to these prohibitions.
The Russian Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, called the Taliban’s new restrictions “pure stupidity” and emphasized that it should be amended. In an interview with a Russian news agency, Kabulov stated that Taliban’s restrictions on men shaving their beards and women’s freedom of movement were commonplace in some provinces near Kabul even during the early days of the Taliban’s second regime. He went on to warn that such actions will not benefit the Taliban and must be curtailed.
US Vice President Kamala Harris has also expressed concern for the well-being of Afghan women and girls living under Taliban rule. Responding to Harris, Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi stated that the Taliban is committed to respecting all Afghan citizens’ rights and implicitly asked Harris not to use the Afghan people’s internal affairs and civil rights as a political tool.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced the appointments of Rina Amiri as Special Envoy for Women, Girls, and Human Rights in Afghanistan, and Stephenie Foster as Senior Advisor for Women and Girls Issues within the State Department’s Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE) team:
Two highly qualified and respected leaders will advance the State Department’s vital work to support Afghan women, girls, and human rights: Special Envoy Rina Amiri and Senior Advisor Stephenie Foster. They bring decades of public policy, diplomatic, and advocacy experience to the Department…
As Special Envoy, [Amiri] will work on issues of critical importance to me, this Administration, and U.S. national security: the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, girls, and other at-risk populations in all of their diversity…
Special Envoy Amiri’s important work will be complemented by the contributions of Stephenie Foster…[whose] diverse public and private sector experiences, including at the Department, and her passion for advancing women and girls’ safety and equality will help advance CARE’s around-the-clock relocation and resettlement efforts on behalf of our Afghan allies and their families.
Women and girls in Afghanistan are bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis since the withdrawal of US troops from the country in August. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) ranked Afghanistan last among 170 countries with respect to women’s rights while the UN noted that women and girls have faced greater barriers to education, employment and community participation since the Taliban takeover.