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Campaign Opposes Taliban Forcing On-Air Female Journalists to Cover Faces

A new social media campaign, #FreeHerFace, has Afghan male journalists and others posting selfies with their faces covered, in solidarity with the Afghan women journalists facing a harmful new Taliban decree. On May 9, the Taliban ordered women and…
A tv anchor wears a face mask on the air
News

Collapsing Healthcare System Particularly Harmful for Women

“We just buried Mom. Can you believe it? She was too young to die. I can’t take her place for my younger siblings.” These are the painful words of my 17-year-old cousin, Sima, who had just lost her mother a few hours before we spoke. My Aunt…
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News

‘Taliban want to make it so harsh and strict we give up on education’

After taking over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban instituted a de facto ban on girls’ secondary education, even though community pressure resulted in some girls’ secondary schools reopening in about nine provinces. Many of these closed after…
Girls stand outside while attending school
News

Bomb Blasts in Kabul’s Hazara Neighborhood Deepen Students’, Families’ Fears

Afghanistan’s children are bleeding again. Multiple bomb blasts on April 19 outside a high school and an education center in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood left at least six people dead and twenty wounded, including children, and casualties could…
A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of an explosion in front of a school, in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 19, 2022.
News

Guidelines for Donor Countries, Other Concerned Governments

March 21: Taliban announce girls’ secondary schools will reopen March 23. March 23: Taliban announce girls’ secondary schools will remain closed until compliant with Islamic law. March 25: Taliban begin blocking women from air travel without a…
Women chant and hold signs at a protest
News

Taliban’s Attack on Girls’ Right to Education Continues

“For Afghan girls, the earth is unbearable, and the sky is unreachable.” Atefa, 16, used this Farsi proverb to express her despair after the Taliban blocked girls from attending secondary school this week, breaking a pledge to end the ban. I…
Afghan girls attend class at a high school in Herat, Afghanistan, November 25, 2021.
News

Action Taken Days Before Key Donor Pledging Conference

On March 21 the Taliban promised to reopen all schools in Afghanistan, ending their seven-month de-facto ban on girls attending secondary school. Two days later, as many girls were preparing for the first day of the new school term, the Taliban…
A woman holds a protest sign that reads "Education is our right"
News

Taliban Violations Highlight Fragility of Rights of Women and Girls Globally

“While it feels as though the world has given up on Afghan women, we have not.…We need you to stand by us.”—Afghan women’s rights activist Mahbouba Seraj, to the United Nations Security Council, January 26, 2022 On International Women’s Day, we…
A man in military uniform points in the face of a woman
News

Taliban Crushes Women’s Freedom of Movement and Other Rights

When the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, the change for women and girls was immediate. They suddenly had to be afraid to leave their houses. The men outside – Taliban members – were notorious for attacking women for how they…
A woman wearing a burqa walks by a group of men
News

Unacknowledged Detentions Increase Risks of Harm

The Taliban’s response to the apparent enforced disappearance of Tamana Paryani, Parwana Ibrahimkhel, and other women activists in Afghanistan has laid bare their intent to eradicate critical women’s voices through unlawful use of force. Taliban…
Two women hold protest signs
News

Threats, Assaults, and ‘Less-Lethal Weapons’ Against Peaceful Protesters

The Taliban’s violent crackdown on a women’s rights demonstration in Kabul last weekend marks an alarming and unlawful escalation of efforts to suppress peaceful protest and free speech in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch spoke with two protesters…
Women protesters demand justice and call for the Taliban to respect women’s rights in Kabul, Afghanistan
News

Closing Secondary Schools to Girls Causing Lasting Harm

“I want to go to school and become an independent woman who chooses and decides for her life,” 16-year-old Nasiba told me. “If I am educated, men wouldn’t dare to interfere but if I am not, they will decide my whole life for me.” She lives in Kabul…
Women demonstrate for their rights during a gathering for National Teachers Day in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 5, 2021.
News

For Survivors of Abuse, Shelters Offered Lifeline

“My parents warned me they will kill me if I ever leave this shelter,” Najla, a woman of about 30, told me. “The worst thing is that I don’t have anyone to support me.” She has been in a shelter in Afghanistan’s western city of Herat for several years…
Afghan women sew in their bedroom at a women's shelter in Kabul, March 20, 2017. A non-descript building tucked away in a residential neighborhood is one of the few hidden sanctuaries where battered women can seek support. 
News

‘They Cannot Eliminate Us from Society’

“We decided to protest to demand our basic rights: the right to education, to work, and political participation. We want the Taliban to know that they cannot eliminate us from society.” Those were the words of Arezo, a young woman from Kabul who…
Women gather to demand their rights under Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 3, 2021.
News

Government Should Include Pregnant People in Heat Action and Climate Adaptation Plans

As the UK bakes in record-setting temperatures, its meteorological service issued its first-ever extreme heat warning this week. Public Health England extended its own heat health alert through July 23, as soaring day- and night-time temperatures…
A woman walks under a parasol to shelter from the sun in Birmingham, U.K., on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The U.K.'s Met Office has issued its first-ever Extreme Heat weather warning, stating that continuing high temperatures will lead to public health impacts.
News

Twenty Rights Groups Call for Justice and Accountability

Human Rights Watch today joined Afghan and international human rights organizations calling for a United Nations-mandated fact-finding mission to investigate escalating attacks on civilians in Afghanistan to promote justice and accountability.…
The mother of a schoolgirl who was among those killed in the brutal May 8, 2021 bombing of the Sayed ul-Shuhada girls' school stands inside a classroom with bouquets of flowers on empty desks as a tribute to the dead, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 16, 2021. 
News

Fifth US State Ends Marriage Under 18; UK Pledges to do the Same

Last week, a breakthrough in the global fight to end child marriage came when the United Kingdom government pledged to raise the minimum age of marriage in England and Wales to 18, without exception. Just days before, Rhode Island became the fifth US…
A demonstrator wearing a bridal gown takes part in a protest urging legislators to end Massachusetts child marriage
News

Donors Should Sustain Vital Services While Decrying Violations

Donor countries to Afghanistan say they want to keep protecting the human rights of women and girls, even as international troops prepare to depart the country. But a bill introduced in the United States Senate last week raises tricky issues about how…
Women walking Nadir Khan Overlooking Kabul womens rights us withdrawl
News

Attackers Target Girls Leaving Kabul High School

Scenes from Sayed ul-Shuhada High School in Kabul, Afghanistan, where as many as 85 people including many schoolgirls were killed in an attack this weekend, should break anyone’s heart. They certainly broke mine. In 2017 a filmmaker and I spent a week…
Books, notebooks, and other school supplies are left behind after May 8's deadly bombings near a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 9, 2021.
News

International Women’s Day Should Prompt Real Reforms

As 2020 drew to a close, protesters across South Asia took to the streets, calling on their governments to take widespread sexual violence against women and children seriously, and to implement real reforms. But rather than listening to experts and…
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