In Afghanistan, women commit suicide out of desperation, says the Human Rights Council |


It comes as the main UN rights forum in Geneva agreed to member states’ request for a rare urgent debate on the issue this Friday.

Addressing the Council, Fawzia Koofi, former Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, said lack of opportunities and poor mental health were taking their toll.

“The fact that girls as young as nine are being sold, not only because of economic pressure, but because of the fact that there is no hope for them, for their familyit is not normal.”

Bachelet highlights “progressive exclusion”

Echoing widespread international concern for ordinary Afghans, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet condemned massive unemployment among women, restrictions on how they dress and their access to basic services.

Businesses owned and run by women have been shut down, Bachelet added, saying 1.2 million girls no longer have access to secondary education, in line with a decision by the de facto authorities who took power in August 2021.

“The de facto authorities I met during my visit in March this year said they would honor their human rights obligations to the extent that [being] in accordance with Sharia.

“Still despite these assurances, we are witnessing the progressive exclusion of women and girls of the public sphere and their institutionalized and systematic oppression”.

Ms. Bachelet encouraged the re-establishment of an independent mechanism to receive complaints from the public and protect victims of gender-based violence.

“Beyond being right, it is also a matter of practical necessity,” said the High Commissioner. “In the context of the economic crisis, women’s contribution to economic activity is essential, which in itself requires access to education, freedom of movement and freedom from violence”.

Women made “invisible”

Also speaking at the human rights councilits special rapporteur for human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, described a chilling attempt by the Taliban to make women “invisible, excluding them almost entirely from society”.]

As an example of the de facto authorities’ intentions to impose “absolute gender discrimination”, the independent human rights expert also noted that women are now represented by men in the Kabul Loya Jirgaor great assembly of religious scholars and elders.

Such measures contravene Afghanistan’s obligations under numerous human rights treaties to which it is a state party, Mr Bennett insisted before adding that the situation of women “massively reduces the lives of women , deliberately undermines the autonomy, freedom and dignity of women and girls, and create a culture of impunity for domestic violence, child marriage and the sale and trafficking of girls, to name a few just some of the consequences.

© UNICEF/Said Bidel

Girls at school in Herat, Afghanistan.

Broken promises

Despite public assurances from the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls, they are gradually re-establishing discrimination against women and girls. Said Ms Koofi, a former member of the Taliban peace negotiation team said the fundamentalists “obviously didn’t keep their promises of what they were telling us during the negotiations, in terms of respecting Islamic rights for women.”

Ms. Koofi added that “In fact, what they are doing is against Islam. Our beautiful religion begins with reading. But today, the Taliban under the name of the same religion, deprive 55% of society from going to school”.

Afghanistan’s response

For Nasir Andisha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN in Geneva, “The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan requires nothing less than a strong monitoring mechanism to collect, consolidate and analyze evidence of violations, document and verify information, identify those responsible to promote accountability and remedy for victims, and make recommendations. for the effective prevention of future violations”.

A draft resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan is being negotiated at the Human Rights Council and will be considered on 7 July.

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