Washington: The European Union High Representative as well as foreign ministers of 12 nations today brought out a joint statement “strongly” condemning the Taliban’s recent decisions to ban women from universities, to continue to bar girls from secondary schools, and to impose “other harsh restrictions” on the ability of women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The joint statement was released by the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States besides the High Representative of the European Union.
They stated that the Taliban’s oppressive measures against Afghan girls and women “have been relentless and systemic”. They further pointed out that over the last 16 months, the Taliban issued at least 16 decrees and edicts that, among other things, constrain women’s mobility, remove women from places of work, require head-to-toe coverings for women, ban women from using public spaces such as parks and gyms and leave widows and women-headed households in dire circumstances by the requirement of male guardianship. “These policies make clear the Taliban’s disregard for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.
Afghan women’s ingenuity and dynamism are needed urgently to help relieve profound and staggering economic and humanitarian needs, the statement said. It added that a stable, economically viable, and peaceful Afghanistan is only attainable and sustainable if all Afghans, including women and girls, can fully, equally, and meaningfully participate in and contribute to the country’s future and development.
“We stand with all Afghans in their demand to exercise their human rights consistent with Afghanistan’s obligations under international law. With these moves, the Taliban are further isolating themselves from the Afghan population and the international community. We urge the Taliban to immediately abandon the new oppressive measures with respect to university education for women and girls and to, without delay, reverse the existing decision to prohibit girls’ access to secondary school,” the statement said.
It mentioned that the Taliban policies designed to erase women from public life will have consequences for how their countries engage with the Taliban. “Our foremost concern will continue to be the welfare, rights, and freedoms of the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the United States today stated that the Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all in Afghanistan. “No other country in the world bars women and girls from receiving an education. The Taliban’s repressive edicts have resulted in inexcusable restrictions on Afghan women and girls, including on their access to schools. Moreover, the Taliban’s latest announcement means that women and girls will continue to face enormous difficulties seeking employment to feed their families. Afghanistan is already losing more than $1 billion per year in contributions that women could be making to the economy. Now the Taliban have sentenced the Afghan people to these losses and more. No country can thrive when half of its population is held back,” the US Secretary of State, Antony J Blinken stated today.
– global bihari bureau