Taliban restricting Afghan women from working, seeking health care: UN

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UNITED NATIONS, Jan 23 (APP/DNA): The United Nations issued a new report detailing concerns about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, specifically focusing on the limited rights women are awarded under Taliban rule.

Among those whose working lives have been upended, the Taliban “banned” approximately 400 women workers at a pine nut processing from the workplace and dismissed another 200 at a power plant, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its quarterly report on the human rights situation.

The officials reportedly stated that “it was inappropriate for an unmarried woman to work.”

Many women were also not allowed to board buses or go to work because they were unmarried or because they did not have a ‘mahram’ to accompany them in public.

The report also noted that several women were arbitrarily arrested in Kabul and other locations for “not wearing proper hijab”.

Most were released after their ‘mahrams’ signed a guarantee that they will adhere to the hijab decree in the future.

“The measures taken by the de facto (Taliban) authorities contradicts the hijab decree itself,” UNAMA said.  

“For a first violation of the decree, a warning is to be issued to the individual’s mahram (at the place of residence), for a second violation, the individual’s mahram is to be summoned, for a third violation, the individual’s mahram may be imprisoned for up to three days and for a fourth violation, the individual’s mahram is to be brought before the de facto court for further action.”

UNAMA further noted that the de facto authorities continued to infringe the right to freedom of expression by limiting the opportunity to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

On 14 December, the Taliban Ministry of Higher Education issued a letter instructing all universities and private education institutions to remove books which are considered against the laws of Hanafi jurisprudence.

This includes books relating to Shi’a beliefs, political parties and materials authored by individuals associated with the elected Government the Taliban deposed, the report stated.

In further examples, four women’s rights activists and three staff of a radio station were arrested between September and December simply for doing their jobs.

Although five of them were released, one rights activist remains in detention and one journalist was sentenced to a year in prison.

The report notes that at least 11 people were killed and a further 51 wounded by unexploded ordnance between October and December 2023. Forty-nine of the 62 victims were children (41 boys and eight girls).