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UN experts call for an investigation into the Taliban’s treatment of women in Afghanistan

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The Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan may amount to a crime against humanity and must be investigated and prosecuted under international law, a UN team of experts said on Friday.

The Taliban quickly denied the accusation.

The statement by the UN-appointed experts followed confirmation by the Taliban that three women were among 12 people whipped on Wednesday in front of hundreds of spectators at a provincial sports stadium. He pointed to the Taliban’s resumption of a brutal form of punishment that was a hallmark of his rule in the 1990s.

And on November 11 in Taloqan, in the northeastern province of Takhar, 10 men and nine women were flogged 39 times each in the presence of elders, scholars and residents at the city’s main mosque after Friday prayers. They were charged with adultery, robbery, and running away from home.

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UN experts said the latest actions by the Taliban against women and girls have deepened existing rights violations, which are already “the most draconian in the world”, and may amount to gender persecution, which is a crime against humanity.

The Taliban invaded Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war. Although they initially promised more moderate rule and allowed the rights of women and minorities, they have restricted rights and freedoms and widely implemented their harsh interpretation of Islamic or Sharia law.

They barred girls from attending middle and high school, restricted women from most jobs, and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also prohibited from entering parks, gyms and amusement parks.

A Taliban fighter stands guard in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 25, 2022. A UN committee of experts has called for an investigation into the treatment of women in Afghanistan.
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Public lashings, as well as public executions and stoning for alleged crimes, were common throughout Afghanistan during the Taliban’s first period of rule, from 1996 until 2001, when they were driven out in a US-led invasion following the attacks. 9/11 terrorists. The Taliban had harbored al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

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The experts’ statement did not specifically mention cases of public caning, but said the Taliban have beaten men accompanying women who wore colorful clothes or did not cover their faces.

“We are deeply concerned that such actions are aimed at forcing men and boys to punish women and girls who resist the Taliban’s removal, further depriving them of their rights and normalizing violence against them,” he said.

He urged the Taliban to restore the rights and freedoms of Afghan women, release detained activists and restore access to schools and public spaces.

The team of experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, includes Richard Bennett, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, and Farida Shaheed, special rapporteur on the right to education.

Taliban-appointed foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi rejected the experts’ statement and hit back at the UN for sanctioning the former insurgents now ruling Afghanistan.

Balkhi, in a message to The Associated Press, listed what he said amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the world body, including the “ongoing collective punishment of innocent Afghans by the UN sanctions regime, all in the name of women’s rights and equality.”

Sanctions on Taliban officials and a freeze on billions in foreign currency reserves have restricted access to global institutions and foreign money that had supported Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of US forces and from NATO.

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No country in the world has recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their administration, leaving them internationally and financially isolated.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday it was seeing a rise in childhood pneumonia and malnutrition cases, with the poverty level rising compared to previous years, as humanitarian conditions plummet and the country braces itself. for a second winter under the Taliban regime.

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