Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


To both prevent continued violations of women's human rights and to encourage accountability for past abuses, Human Rights Watch calls on:

All parties to the conflict in Afghanistan
Make, and fully abide by, a public commitment to observe international human rights and humanitarian law guaranteeing the protection of civilians, and to investigate and hold accountable military personnel responsible for violations.

The U.S.-led alliance
Ensure that any military actions taken in Afghanistan comply with international human rights and humanitarian law and that specific protections afforded to women under international law in time of war are fully respected; and that all possible steps are taken to address the particular challenges that women encounter living in a conflict zone.

The Taliban and the United Front
Immediately cease violations of humanitarian law, and in particular violations against women. Order the immediate cessation of any practice of rape or other forms of sexual assault.

The International Community
Call for an immediate end to the systematic violations of women's human rights by the Taliban and other political factions in Afghanistan;

Take all steps possible to ensure that adequate humanitarian assistance reaches all affected civilians inside Afghanistan, especially the internally displaced and female-headed households;

Support the efforts of international, domestic relief and Afghan women's rights agencies that are providing humanitarian and development assistance in Afghanistan, and ensure the inclusion of women both as recipients of aid and as equal partners in decision making regarding development and aid projects;

Ensure that any government established in Afghanistan is committed to fully respect the human rights of all the people of Afghanistan and to repealing laws and ending practices that by their intent or consequence discriminate against women;

As foreign aid is allocated to rebuild Afghanistan, ensure that development and reconstruction programs are structured to ensure that girls and women have full access to programs for education, health care, job training, and housing. These programs must be crafted so that they reach women who otherwise might not be aware of or be able to access the programs, including rural women, widows, and women who are disabled, internally displaced, or illiterate;

Hold the Taliban and other political factions in Afghanistan accountable for their massive and systematic violations of women's human rights; and

Hold the Taliban and the United Front accountable for violations of humanitarian law during the civil war, including extrajudicial executions of civilians, "disappearances", sexual violence, and gender-based persecution.

The United Nations
The Security Council, together with the secretary-general and the high commissioner for human rights, should press for prompt and thorough investigations both of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including cases of extrajudicial execution of civilians, "disappearances," sexual violence and of the system of gender-based persecution established in areas of Taliban rule; and should ensure that violations against women are a separate and specific part of any investigation;

In light of the severe gender-based discrimination that has been a hallmark of the Taliban and other previous regimes in Afghanistan, U.N. agencies and programs working in Afghanistan should insist, and take all possible steps to ensure, that their programs in future function free from discrimination based on sex, and are tailored to guarantee to women meaningful access to humanitarian aid and other programs; and

The U.N. should fill its vacant gender advisor position with the Office of the United Nations Coordinator for Afghanistan, and give the gender advisor the authority to monitor and ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and also to undertake wide consultation with all interested groups so as to propose not only immediate measures of relief, but also measures to address the situation of women in a post-conflict Afghanistan.

Working with host and donor governments, UNHCR should develop a coordinated strategy effectively to identify and separate militants and armed elements from civilian refugees. Separation should take place inside host countries at the border and involve an international monitoring presence; and

In registering refugees, UNHCR should take into consideration the persecution of women in Afghanistan by all the political factions.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page