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Report by Human Rights Watch Associate Director for Women’s Rights, Heather Barr

The plight of Afghan women under the Taliban was used in many countries to convince voters to support the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on the US. “Only the terrorists and the Taliban forbid education to women,”…
Women gather to demand their rights under Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 3, 2021.
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(New York, May 6, 2021) – Falling donor support for essential services in Afghanistan is reducing women’s access to essential health care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More cuts are likely in coming months following the announcement…
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Dropping Donor Support Threatens Essential Services

(New York) – Falling donor support for essential services in Afghanistan is reducing women’s access to essential health care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More cuts are likely in coming months following the announcement by…
A new mother holds her hour-old baby in the maternity ward at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 2020. She had travelled from neighboring Laghman province to give birth at the hospital. On May 12, 2020, unidentified gunmen attacked the hospital’s maternity ward, killing 24 people, including 16 mothers, 2 children, and a midwife. Three new mothers were killed in the delivery room. Another 20 people, including babies, were injured in the four-hour attack. Ongoing security concerns have lef
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US Should Support a Genuinely Inclusive Process, Not Just ‘Parallel’ Events

(New York) – Women should have full participation in the talks between Afghan government officials, opposition political leaders, and the Taliban under United Nations auspices, Human Rights Watch said today. Human rights advocates in…
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 14, 2017.
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Near Exclusion at Moscow Summit Highlights Threat to Rights

(New York) – Afghanistan’s government and its international partners are failing in their obligation to ensure that Afghan women are full participants in all peace processes. In keeping with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women,…
Former President Hamid Karzai, left, and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second right, attend an international peace conference in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021.
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Issue XV: The impact of COVID19- on women and girls’ education

UN Women, UNICEF and Human Rights Watch jointly issue this fifteenth alert to continue to highlight the gender specific impact of COVID-19 in Afghanistan. This alert focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls’ education and the…
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Abuses Persist, Protections Fragile as Peace Talks Begin

(New York) – The Taliban in Afghanistan have imposed severe restrictions on rights in areas under their control despite claims of reform, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Residents reported an inability to criticize or question…
Two children walk by armed soldiers in the countryside
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Government, Taliban Cooperation Needed to Help Millions at Risk

(New York) – The Afghan government and Taliban should urgently work together with the United Nations and aid agencies to improve access to health care for the millions of Afghans most at risk from COVID-19, Human Rights Watch said today…
A medical officer scans a passenger for signs of fever at a bus station as a precaution against the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 27, 2020. © 2020 Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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This is a moment of both fear and hope for Afghan women — and an urgent time for the world to support their hard-won rights. The Feb. 29 deal between the US and the Taliban could pave the way for a peace that Afghans desperately seek.…
Women walk along a street in the old part of Kabul February 29, 2020.
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Talks Should Include Women, Victims’ Groups, Reformers

(New York) – Upcoming talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghan political leaders should make human rights protections a priority, Human Rights Watch said today. The negotiations should include meaningful participation by…
Women walk along a street in the old part of Kabul February 29, 2020.
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The Afghan government is failing to provide sufficient psychosocial, or mental health, support to Afghans who have experienced traumatic events, Human Rights Watch said today. More than half the Afghan population, including many survivors of…
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4 Civilians Executed in Second Attack on Facility in Wardak Province

(Kabul) – Afghan special forces raided a medical clinic in Wardak province on the night of July 8-9, 2019, and executed four civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Afghan authorities should promptly and thoroughly investigate the attack and…
Afghan special police forces attend their graduation ceremony at a special forces training center in Kabul.
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Alleged Sexual Assault, Injustice Violate Rights, Deny Equal Access to Sport

(New York) – Afghan authorities should fully investigate and appropriately prosecute the sexual assault claims by 20 members of Afghanistan’s national women’s football team, Human Rights Watch said today. The Fédération Internationale de Football…
Afghanistan women’s football team.
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Policy Bans Government Doctors from Conducting Abusive Tests

A new policy in Afghanistan promises to bar government health workers from engaging in the abusive practice of forcing women and girls to undergo invasive and medically meaningless vaginal and anal exams to determine whether they are “…
A demonstrator attends a rally outside the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, Belgium, October 5, 2016.
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Reports of Ill-Treatment Show Need for Transparency, Monitoring

(Paris) – Uzbek authorities should immediately and unconditionally release an Afghan citizen whose 13-year imprisonment and alleged torture in custody have only recently become known, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International…
A guard in a solitary confinement block at an unidentified prison in Uzbekistan. Prisoners in solitary confinement in Uzbekistan’s prisons experience cramped cells without bedding—some in total darkness, others with permanent bright lights
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The Government Has Defined Harassment, But Abuse is Still Common

Any Afghan woman can tell you that sexual harassment is widespread in Afghanistan. A 2016 study found 90 percent of the 346 women and girls interviewed said they had experienced sexual harassment in public places, 91 percent in…
A demonstrator attends a rally outside the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, Belgium, October 5, 2016.
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Afghan government and international donor efforts since 2001 to educate girls have significantly faltered in recent years. Sixteen years after the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan ousted the Taliban, an estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls do…
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Robot Visits US, Afghan Girls Stuck at Home

We want to make a difference and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great.  – Team Afghanistan’s statement on the competition website They…
Members of Afghan robotics girls team which was denied entry into the United States for a competition, work on their robots in Herat province, Afghanistan July 4, 2017.