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Afghanistan is world’s most oppressive country for women, says UN | World News

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the country has become the most oppressive country in the world for women and girls, stripped of many basic rights, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on International Women’s Day, the UN mission said Afghanistan’s new rulers had shown little “focus on enforcing the rules that keep most women and girls effectively confined to their homes”.

Despite initially promising a more moderate stance, the Taliban have imposed drastic measures since taking power in August 2021, as U.S. and NATO forces are in the final weeks of withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

Also read: Taliban persecution of women may be ‘crime against humanity’: UN

They bar girls from education beyond the sixth grade and ban women from public spaces such as parks and gymnasiums. Women are also banned from working in national and international NGOs and ordered to cover themselves from head to toe.

“Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country on women’s rights in the world,” said Roza Otunbayeva, special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the Afghan delegation.

“It is heartrending to witness their methodical, deliberate and systematic efforts to remove Afghan women and girls from the public sphere,” she added.

The restrictions, especially the ban on education and the work of NGOs, have drawn strong international condemnation. But the Taliban showed no signs of backing down, claiming the ban was temporarily suspended, allegedly because women were not wearing the Islamic hijab or hijab properly and were not adhering to gender segregation rules.

As for the ban on university education, the Taliban government says some of the subjects taught are not in line with Afghan and Islamic values.

“Confining half of the country’s population to their homes in one of the world’s largest humanitarian and economic crises is a colossal act of national self-harm,” Otunbayeva added.

“This will condemn not just women and girls, but all Afghans for future generations who are impoverished and aid dependent,” she said. “It will further isolate Afghanistan from its own citizens and from the rest of the world.”

The UN mission in Afghanistan also said that since the Taliban took over, it has documented a near-continuous stream of discriminatory laws and measures against women – whose rights to travel or work outside the confines of the home and access to spaces are largely restrictions on access, and they are excluded from public decision-making at all levels.

Also read: 80 Afghan citizens killed in Italian boat sinking, Taliban foreign ministry says

“The Taliban’s harm to its own citizens is not limited to women and girls,” said Alison Davidian, UN Women’s Special Representative in Afghanistan.

No official from the Taliban-led government was immediately available for comment.

The UN Security Council will meet later on Wednesday with Otunbayeva and women representatives from Afghan civil society groups.

11.6 million Afghan women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance, the statement said. However, the Taliban has banned women from working for NGOs, further undermining international aid efforts.

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