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Saturday, October 1, 2022

UN slams Taliban decree ordering Afghan women to wear burqas

NEW YORK: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has criticised an announcement made by the Taliban ordering all women to cover their faces in public in the country.

“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the mission said in a statement.

According to information received by UNAMA, this is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, any violations of which will lead to the punishment of male relatives.

“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” it added.

Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the Taliban assured that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large. However, the decree calling for women to only show their eyes and recommends wearing the head-to-toe burqas, is the latest whittling of their rights evoking similar restrictions from the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001.

It also follows the reneging on an earlier promise to appease their hardline rule at the expense of further alienating the international community, which has been eager for signs that the de facto authority is ready for positive relations with the wider world.

After seizing power, the Taliban confirmed in September that secondary schools were reopening, but that only boys would be returning to the classroom. Women teachers throughout the country were also unable to resume work.

Six weeks ago, the Taliban decided again to postpone secondary schooling for Afghan girls, drawing wide international, regional, and local condemnation. This latest decision threatens to further strain engagement with the international community.

“UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision,” the statement continued, adding that it would also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding the implications of this latest decree.

Intense push-back against the Taliban have led to nations cutting development aid and enforcing strict sanctions on the country’s banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin, it was pointed out.

During a high-level meeting in Geneva a month after the Taliban’s takeover, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people. The nation is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, leaving nearly 23 million people facing acute food insecurity.

In January, the UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan to avert the collapse of basic services. The UN has pledged to stay and continue delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.


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