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August 15, 2023 marks the two-year anniversary since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, foll…

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August 15, 2023 marks the two-year anniversary since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country.[0] The Taliban's return to power has had devastating consequences for the rights and freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan. Despite initial promises to respect women's rights under Sharia law, the Taliban have imposed draconian restrictions on women and girls, effectively banning them from participating in public life, education, and the labor market.[1]

The Taliban's policies have resulted in the mass oppression of women, creating a system that is widely considered to be gender apartheid.[2] Through over 50 edicts, orders, and restrictions, the Taliban have left no aspect of women's lives untouched.[3] They have barred women from most jobs, closed beauty salons, and restricted their access to parks. Women are now required to have a male guardian accompany them when traveling, further curtailing their freedom of movement.[4]

The Taliban's restrictions on women's rights have been met with widespread condemnation from the international community.[2] Organizations such as UN Women have called for the recognition and prosecution of the Taliban's crimes against women. The deprivation of Afghan women's fundamental rights, including their rights to education, equality, dignity, bodily autonomy, security, employment, political representation, and cultural participation, is considered a crime against humanity and a violation of international treaties.[2]

The international community must take action to hold the Taliban accountable for their actions and to support Afghan women in their fight for their rights and freedoms. This includes recognizing that Taliban policies constitute gender persecution and gender apartheid through official resolutions and sanctions.[2] It is also essential to consult and convene diverse groups of Afghans, especially Afghan women, when creating policies that affect Afghanistan.[2] Afghan women's input and perspectives are crucial for countering the Taliban and ensuring effective policymaking.[2]

Despite the challenges they face, Afghan women continue to lead the struggle against their oppression. They speak out against violations, provide lifesaving services, own and operate businesses, and run women's organizations.[5] Their bravery and resilience should inspire the international community to take greater action in supporting them.[5] This includes funding the services they need, supporting their businesses and organizations, and pressuring for change through diplomatic means.[5]

The Taliban's policies not only pose a threat to the rights and freedoms of Afghan women but also have implications for regional security. The Taliban's alliance with terrorist groups, such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has led to an upsurge in violent attacks in Pakistan and along the Afghan-Pakistan border.[6] Additionally, the presence of ISIS-K in Afghanistan poses a security threat not only to Afghanistan but also to its neighboring countries in Central Asia.[6]

The situation in Afghanistan requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the immediate humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and the long-term challenge of restoring peace and stability to the country. It is crucial for the international community to continue applying pressure on the Taliban, supporting Afghan women, and working towards a peaceful, inclusive, and stable Afghanistan.[3]

As the international community reflects on the two-year anniversary of the Taliban's return to power, it is clear that much work remains to be done to ensure the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls. The struggle for gender equality and women's empowerment in Afghanistan is far from over, and it is the responsibility of the international community to stand with Afghan women and support their fight for justice and equality.

0. “Two years after U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban enjoys an iron-fisted grip on Afghanistan | FDD's Long War Journal” Long War Journal, 15 Aug. 2023, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2023/08/two-years-after-u-s-withdrawal-the-taliban-enjoys-an-iron-fisted-grip-on-afghanistan.php

1. “Afghanistan: 2 years of Taliban rule ‘worse than feared'” DW, 14 Aug. 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/afghanistan-2-years-of-taliban-rule-worse-than-feared/a-66527110

2. “How the World Can Help Afghan Women Now” Foreign Policy, 14 Aug. 2023, https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/08/14/afghanistan-womens-rights-violence-taliban-anniversary/

3. “Keep pressuring Taliban amid ‘unparalleled assault' on women's rights” UN News, 15 Aug. 2023, https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/08/1139757

4. “Taliban mark two years since return to power in Afghanistan” The Jerusalem Post, 15 Aug. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/international/article-754794

5. “Statement on Afghanistan by UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous” UN Women, 15 Aug. 2023, https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/statement/2023/08/statement-on-afghanistan-by-un-women-executive-director-sima-bahous

6. “Two years after Taliban takeover: why Afghanistan still poses a threat to the region and beyond” The Conversation, 11 Aug. 2023, https://theconversation.com/two-years-after-taliban-takeover-why-afghanistan-still-poses-a-threat-to-the-region-and-beyond-211052

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