HRW says Taliban deprive women of livelihood in Afghanistan

Kabul, Jan 18 (EFE).- The Taliban has deprived women and girls in Afghanistan of the right to education and health after taking over the country in August last year, leading to a sharp deterioration in their living conditions, the nonprofit Human Right Watch (HRW) said in a report Tuesday.

“The Taliban have imposed rights-violating policies that have created huge barriers to women’s and girls’ health and education, curtailed freedom of movement, expression, and association, and deprived many of earned income,” HRW said in a joint statement with the Human Rights Institute at San Jose State University (SJSU).

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has deprived much of the population of access to food, water, housing and medical care, as the return of the Islamists to power led to the suspension of international aid, high inflation and liquidity crisis.

“Afghan women and girls are facing both the collapse of their rights and dreams and risks to their basic survival,” said Halima Kazem-Stojanovic, a core faculty member of SJSU’s Human Rights Institute and a scholar on Afghanistan.

She underlined that women “are caught between Taliban abuses and actions by the international community that are pushing Afghans further into desperation every day.”

Around 10 women from the southern province of Ghazni told the HRW and SJSU investigation team that they were unable to cope with rising prices for basic food, transport and school books, while most of them lost their main source of income after the Taliban restricted women’s access to work.

“Only those working in primary education or health care were still able to work, and most were not being paid due to the financial crisis,” said the report.

The arrival of the Taliban to power also restricted girls’ access to secondary and higher education, as well as marked a change their curricula to focus more on religious studies.

“They dictate what women must wear, how they should travel, workplace segregation by sex, and even what kind of cell phones women should have. They enforce these rules through intimidation and inspections,” stressed the rights watchdog.

“The future looks dark,” a woman who had worked in the government told the investigators. “I had many dreams, wanted to continue studying and working. I was thinking of doing my master’s. At the moment, they don’t even allow girls to finish high school.”

“The crisis for women and girls in Afghanistan is escalating with no end in sight. (…) Taliban policies have rapidly turned many women and girls into virtual prisoners in their homes,” said Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. EFE


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