A Taliban fighter stands guard as women wait to receive food rations distributed by a humanitarian aid group in Kabul on May 23. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Afghan women had little to celebrate on International Women’s Day this year. No school. No work. No parks. No travel without a male chaperone. No health care without a female provider. No divorce. No justice.

Afghan women and girls have been largely erased from society as a result of the systematic discrimination by the Taliban since they took control of Afghanistan in 2021. The regime’s policy — unprecedented in its severity — is nothing less than “gender apartheid”, and that’s what we should call it.

“Apartheid”, the Afrikaans word for “apartness” that lay behind the methodical oppression of South Africa’s Black majority, is recognized as a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walking in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2022. Ali Khara / Reuters

A human rights calamity is unfolding in Afghanistan. Since retaking power in mid-2021, the Taliban have implemented more extreme policies against women than any other regime in the world. Taliban leaders have issued over 90 edicts limiting women’s rights: they have banned women and girls from attending university or school beyond the sixth grade, restricted their access to health care, prohibited them from leaving home without a male guardian, and revoked many of their social and legal protections. Every new restriction on Afghan women strengthens the Taliban’s dictatorial grip on the entire Afghan population and feeds extremism in a society already occupied by dozens of terrorist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan women wait to receive aid packages which include food, clothes, and sanitary materials and are distributed by a local charity foundation in Herat on January 15, 2024. Mohsen Karimi / AFP

Afghanistan sank deeper into isolation in 2023 as Western donors slashed aid budgets, partly in revulsion at the Taliban regime’s oppression of women and girls, while maintaining sanctions and other forms of economic pressure. The country’s biggest trading partner, Pakistan, put up commercial barriers as Islamabad turned against its former Taliban protégés in a dispute over anti-Pakistan militants becoming more violent in the borderlands. It also joined Iran in kicking out hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, sending them back to impoverished Afghanistan. Left with little help, the Taliban pushed ahead with self-financed infrastructure projects, took stern anti-corruption measures, stabilised the national currency and enhanced customs revenues.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the new Afghanistan, it’s sell your daughter or starve

Their names are Khoshbakht, Saliha, Fawzia, Benazir, Farzana and Nazia — Afghan girls ages 8 to 10 who have been sold into marriage. Desperation forced their parents to thrust them into brutal adulthood. In Shahrak-e-Sabz, a settlement of makeshift mud-brick homes and tents for the displaced in Herat province that we visited last month, our researchers counted 118 girls who had been sold as child brides, and 116 families with girls waiting for buyers. This amounts to 40 percent of families surveyed, even though the Taliban decreed in late 2021 that women should not be considered “property” and must consent to marriage.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children at a camp for Afghan refugees in Nowshera, Pakistan, November 2023. Fayaz Aziz / Reuters

The Pakistani state is notoriously lackadaisical in its habits of governance, but it has acted with surprising vigor in recent months. In October, the country’s military-backed caretaker government announced that all “illegal foreigners”—a thinly disguised reference to millions of Afghan refugees who reside in Pakistan—were to leave the country by November 1 or face arrest and expulsion. In theory, not every Afghan refugee will be affected, at least for now: one million Afghans have renewable permits that allow them to stay in the country, while an estimated 800,000 hold so-called Afghan Citizen Cards that grant them the temporary right to stay but not the full protections due to refugees under international law.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s Time for America to Go Back to Afghanistan

It’s striking how much Afghanistan, which has the unfortunate legacy of being the site of America’s longest war, has all but disappeared from public discussion in the United States. But perhaps it’s understandable. After all, there always seems to be another conflict, another war — which, as it happens, is also Afghanistan’s history.

Since 1979, Afghans have lived in almost perpetual conflict. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes or their country. Foreign interventions have come and gone, ending in failure, leaving Afghans and their neighbors to live with the consequences.

Today, America’s longest war is over. The U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una ventana de oportunidad en la lucha para educar a las niñas afganas

Ya han pasado más de dos años desde que el ejército de Estados Unidos puso fin a su guerra de décadas en Afganistán, y la atención del mundo, como era de esperarse, ha virado a los conflictos terroríficos en Gaza y Ucrania. Pero el caos que dejó atrás el retiro caótico de Estados Unidos no se ha despejado -lejos de eso-. Desde que los talibanes regresaron al poder en agosto de 2021, la crisis económica y humanitaria del país se ha profundizado y agravado.

Las condiciones de las niñas y las mujeres afganas, en particular, se han deteriorado aceleradamente, echando por tierra sus esperanzas para una vida personal y profesional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban security personnel rest during a parade near the vacated U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul on Aug. 15. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban regime has transformed the Afghan state into a relentless oppressor of the people it is entrusted to protect. Following their return to power, the Taliban have committed crimes of concern to humanity, including the systematic deprivation of women, targeting civilians, and war crimes—hundreds of which have been documented by relevant international organizations.

Under the Rome Statute, such violations of international humanitarian law mandate the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate and prosecute involved individuals. Justice demands accountability for those who orchestrated and executed these atrocities. Additionally, prosecuting relevant Taliban leaders will also challenge the regime’s perceived sense of impunity.…  Seguir leyendo »

La dernière des violences envers les femmes afghanes, c’est l’oubli

L e 1er novembre, la date butoir fixée par les autorités pakistanaises pour le retour forcé des réfugiés afghans en situation irrégulière dans leur pays aura donc été respectée. Environ 1,4 million de personnes seraient concernées par cette mesure inhumaine, alors qu’aucune garantie pour leur sécurité n’est assurée à leur retour. Plus de 170 000 d’entre elles ont déjà dû retourner en Afghanistan. Parmi elles, des milliers de femmes, qui vont tout perdre en rentrant, à commencer par leur liberté.

Depuis leur retour au pouvoir, en août 2021, les talibans mènent en effet une campagne de persécution organisée, généralisée et systématique, fondée sur le genre, avec pour objectif principal de contrôler et d’effacer l’existence des femmes dans l’espace public.…  Seguir leyendo »

The right to a formal education has been denied to Afghan girls by the Taliban. Many young girls and women are now being forced into marriages. Photograph: Ali Khara/Reuters

We suddenly all woke in the middle of the night. A piercing cry came from the corner of our room. It was my teenage sister, sobbing in the little room we rent in London. She always used to sleep in the same bed as my mother – until the fall of Kabul.

She wasn’t used to sleeping alone. That night, early in spring, she sobbed until dawn. Her pain was obvious: separation from my mother and a longing that became chronically painful for us all. Since our exile, I have been playing the role of mother, thousands of miles from our parents.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Afghan woman and an Afghan girl walking in Kabul, July 2023. Ali Khara / Reuters

Two years have passed since the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan, but Western governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) remain stumped about how to deal with the country. Hunger and poverty are rampant, and Western countries often end up accidentally punishing the Afghan people for the loathsome policies of their leaders. After the Taliban banned women from working in most jobs outside the home, some aid agencies scaled back their operations or threatened to withdraw from Afghanistan entirely. Continuing to work in the country, they believed, would mean abandoning Afghan women. But walking away from Afghanistan in defense of women’s rights hurts Afghan women most of all.…  Seguir leyendo »

The first Friday prayer, on Aug. 20, 2021, at Pul-i-Khishti Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, since the Taliban took control of the country. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

When the United States freed Afghanistan from the first Taliban government in 2001, everything in my homeland seemed to change overnight.

My father, a businessman, retrieved his cherished television from its hiding place in our home in Kandahar, where he had stashed it for years after the Taliban banned TV, along with music and cinema, as un-Islamic. Dusting it off, he placed it in a prominent spot in our living room, as if he were reclaiming a part of his own identity. People sang songs of liberation from Afghanistan’s past, and we hoisted high the new tricolor national flag that reflected our nation’s hopeful trajectory: a black band for the dark past, a red band signifying the blood shed for liberation and a green one representing optimism for the future.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban soldiers celebrating in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2023. Ali Khara / Reuters.

Two years after taking Kabul, the Taliban are consolidating their control of Afghanistan even as they remain mostly shunned by the rest of the world. Although much of the Afghan population faces dire economic conditions, an often predicted catastrophic humanitarian crisis has yet to materialize, and the economy is stabilizing somewhat in the face of still formidable challenges. Despite an insurgency spearheaded by the local affiliate of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), for most Afghans, security is better than at any time since the early years following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Reported rifts in the Taliban’s leadership have not significantly affected the grip of the country’s theocratic regime, headed from Kandahar by Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, which has imposed ever more draconian restrictions on women and girls, undoing two decades of changes that had brought them basic human rights and access to the public sphere.…  Seguir leyendo »

A classroom that previously was used for girls sits empty in Kabul. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

It’s the small things that find you, and they can come without warning.

Not too long ago I was in Turkey, at the airport in Istanbul. My husband had gone to get us food, something to eat before our plane boarded. He brought it to where we were sitting in the departure hall: a simple plate, white rice and some beans. I had a bite, and I started crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, concerned.

“It’s Kabul”, I said. “It tastes like Kabul, like afternoons there. I’m in Kabul right now. I’m home”.

Two years ago today, Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban swept into Kabul and the Afghanistan I knew disappeared.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘It is the responsibility of the international community to make sure that Afghans .. are connected through adequate access to the internet.’ Taliban flags are flown above in a town in a remote region of Afghanistan, in February 2023. Photograph: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Western officials like me watched in despair two years ago on this day when the Taliban dramatically seized back control of Afghanistan, 20 years after the US-led invasion, toppling their regime in Kabul.

The Afghan people, especially women and girls, faced the new and grim reality of their lives dictated by ideologues and the deprivation of hard won freedoms during the two decades of west-backed fragile democracy. Documentaries detailing those dramatic days of the August 2021 fall of Kabul to the Taliban will soon be playing on our screens, bringing those shocking events back to the front of our minds.

I will find those images hard to watch.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los crímenes de género de los talibanes

La persecución por motivos de género es un serio crimen contra la humanidad. Muchos miembros del régimen talibán en Afganistán son responsables de haber creado un apartheid de género, al negar a niñas y mujeres el acceso a educación; y por eso es posible y necesario hacerles rendir cuentas conforme al Estatuto de Roma de la Corte Penal Internacional.

En el segundo aniversario de la reconquista del poder por los talibanes, el fiscal general de la CPI debe tomar medidas legales contra los individuos responsables de acciones que constituyen las violaciones de derechos humanos más evidentes e inaceptables, movidas por un afán de venganza, que hoy se estén realizando en forma sistemática y con saña contra mujeres y niñas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan women protest against a new Taliban ban on women accessing university education in Kabul on Dec. 22, 2022. Stringer/Getty Images

Teenage girls forced to become child brides and laborers. Food insecurity affecting millions. Public executions and floggings. In the two years since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, 20 years of progress—especially for women and girls—has been systematically erased.

Yet even as international observers lament the Taliban’s horrific abuses and broken promises, some argue that the only path forward is to recognize the group. This argument posits that without formally recognizing the Taliban, the international community cannot deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, provide education and other social welfare programs, and receive accurate updates from Afghans inside the country. Under this view, formal relations would grant the international community much-needed influence on an insular and hostile regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Kabul, August 2022. Ali Khara / Reuters

It has been two years since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan. But earlier this summer, in a government office in Kabul overlooking a well-tended garden, a mid-level Taliban official lamented that the country remains locked in a political standoff. Regional and Western actors cannot agree about how to deal with the Taliban, he complained; even after the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, the West is still fighting a culture war. The United States and its allies want the Taliban to lift their restrictions on women’s rights, but the Taliban will not accept what they see as a feminist agenda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan women demand their rights to education and employment, 26 June 2023. Photograph: EPA

Two years of ever-intensifying repression since the Taliban seized power in August 2021 have not dimmed the resilience of girls and women in Afghanistan, who continue to risk their lives fighting for their right to an education and employment. But no one should be in any doubt that what Afghan girls are experiencing is not a temporary disruption. It is nothing less than “gender apartheid”, the chilling words used recently by the permanent representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations. Only a term as devastating as this can capture the grave violations of rights involved. It is time to declare it a crime against humanity, and the prosecutors of the international criminal court (ICC) should open an investigation into the repression ordained by the Taliban regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una mujer afgana, en un punto de reparto de alimentos en Kabul.Ebrahim Noroozi (AP)

En Afganistán se está lidiando una guerra silenciosa contra las mujeres y las niñas, ante la mirada vacía, adiestrada para no ver, del resto del planeta. Desde agosto de 2021, con la llegada al poder de los talibanes, las afganas han vuelto a la Edad Media. Actualmente, la única ley vigente en el país es la sharía, una norma religiosa del siglo VII interpretada literal y radicalmente por el talibán, en cuyo texto se regulan, entre los posibles castigos, la pena capital, las amputaciones de manos y pies, las flagelaciones públicas y el daño físico, en general.

Ahora las mujeres no pueden tener cuentas bancarias ni pueden trabajar fuera de sus hogares.…  Seguir leyendo »