The Taliban’s announcement that women in Afghanistan would be banned from attending university drew sharp criticism from around the globe Wednesday.
The Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US and the High Representative of the EU released a joint statement condemning the decision.
We stand with all Afghans in their demand to exercise their human rights consistent with Afghanistan’s obligations under international law. With these moves, the Taliban are further isolating themselves from the Afghan population and the international community. We urge the Taliban to immediately abandon the new oppressive measures with respect to university education for women and girls and to, without delay, reverse the existing decision to prohibit girls’ access to secondary school.
Taliban policies designed to erase women from public life will have consequences for how our countries engage with the Taliban. Our foremost concern will continue to be the welfare, rights, and freedoms of the people of Afghanistan.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said, “The suspension of women’s participation in tertiary and higher education is in clear violation of Afghanistan’s obligations under international law.”
Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, urged a global response:
What happens to women and girls in Afghanistan is our global responsibility. We must continue to amplify their voices as they resist erasure. In the face of the Taliban’s systematic and deliberate violations of their rights, we as the international community must continue to speak out for, and invest in, the values upon which we stand, in solidarity with our Afghan sisters.
Human Rights Watch condemned the decision as a “cruel assault on rights.”
A female correspondent in Afghanistan told JURIST, “To those who are violating our rights, you can’t quiet Afghan women’s voice. We will keep shining, and we will come out of this oppression, deprivation, and unequal war, victorious.” A male correspondent added, “It is time for the world to get serious on this matter and not wait for another 9/11. Taliban should be sanctioned and military action should be on the table.”