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An Update on Afghanistan

Since the Taliban assumed control in August of 2021, a total of 140 new edicts and directives have been issued, as reported by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Of these, 88 specifically targeted women’s rights, imposing severe restrictions on their participation in society.  

In a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Taliban arbitrarily detained four women’s rights activists and protestors in September of 2023. Despite numerous calls on the Taliban from Amnesty International and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan Richard Bennett, only two (Zholia Parsi and Neda Parwani) were released on December 19, 2023, while Parisa Azada and Manizha Seddiqi remain imprisoned by the Taliban.

Recent reports from ABC News reveal that numerous girls – who were detained in shopping centers, language classes and street markets in Kabul – were accused of “spreading and encouraging others to wear a bad hijab” and wearing makeup. Images and videos shared in social media by Afghans depict mass arrests, and released women share horrifying stories of torture and beatings by Taliban Vice and Virtue workers and police district soldiers. 

These oppressive measures have led to a surge in women committing suicide, increased violence against women, and a rise in early-and-forced marriages, according to Radio Free Europe. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Kabul and other human rights organizations, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, have issued condemnatory statements, emphasizing that such arbitrary detentions violate women’s human rights and contribute to a permissive environment for continued oppression and abuse. 

UNAMA expresses deep concern over the Taliban’s recent arbitrary arrests and detentions of Afghan women and girls, as reported by ABC News. 

Vital Voices continues to support 16 Afghan women leaders and their families in Albania awaiting resettlement to Canada and the United States. Through ongoing efforts and collaboration with our local partner in Albania, Vital Voices remains committed to assisting these women leaders and their families throughout resettlement period.