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Enforcement Crucial, Broader Reforms Needed

Pakistan’s parliament has passed a bill that significantly strengthens protections for women in the workplace against violence and harassment. The new law, drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights with extensive input from women rights groups and…
Women's rights activists demonstrate to condemn violence against women in Lahore, Pakistan
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

Severe Restrictions, Harassment, Fear in Ghazni Province

(New York) – Taliban rule has had a devastating impact on Afghan women and girls, new research shows, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Institute at San Jose State University (SJSU) said today. The organizations looked at the conditions for…
Burqa-clad women walk on a street in Ghazni City, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
News

UN, World Bank, US Should Adjust Sanctions, Economic Policies

(New York) – Donor countries, the United Nations, and international financial institutions should urgently address Afghanistan’s collapsed economy and broken banking system to prevent widespread famine, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN World…
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News

Discriminatory Rules Hinder Lifesaving Assistance

(New York) – Taliban rules prohibiting most women from operating as aid workers are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Countrywide restrictions mean that aid will reach fewer families in need, particularly women-headed households.…
Men wait in a line to receive cash at a money distribution organized by the World Food Program in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2021.
News
Secondary schools have reopened for boys but remain closed to the vast majority of girls. Women are banned from most employment; the Taliban government added insult to injury by saying women in their employ could keep their jobs only if they…
Taliban violations of the rights of women and girls are uniquely extreme. No other country openly bars girls from studying on the basis of gender.
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

Discriminatory Rules, Ignored Protections

(New York) – Taliban officials in Afghanistan’s provinces are using a manual that imposes rules harsher than the abusive policies announced by their leaders in Kabul. And Taliban authorities often do not comply with the rights protections that the…
Taliban fighters stand guard at the entrance to the former Ministry of Women Affairs, which the Taliban has replaced with the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which oversees the implementation of hardline Islamic rules in Afghanistan.
News

It Matters when the UN, Governments, and Aid Agencies Send Only Men to Talk to the Taliban

What do Turkmenistan and UNICEF have in common? How about the United Kingdom and the UNDP, and at least nine other countries and four other humanitarian and development organizations? They all appear to…
Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, center, meets with Sir Simon Gass, the British prime minister's high representative for Afghan transition, left, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 5, 2021.
News

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.
News

Situation Worsening Every Day

There is no better symbol for the disappearance of women’s rights in Afghanistan than the end of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the return of the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. When the Taliban on September 7 announced…
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News
In the first Taliban news conference after the group regained control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid sought to reassure women. “Our sisters, our men have the same rights,” he said. But Afghan women know the…
Women gather to demand their rights under Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 3, 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

Women in City of Herat Describe Loss of Freedoms Overnight

(New York) – The Taliban in Afghanistan’s western city of Herat are committing widespread and serious human rights violations against women and girls, Human Rights Watch and the San Jose State University (SJSU) Human Rights Institute said today. Since…
A Taliban member watches as women demonstrate for human rights in Herat, Afghanistan, September 2, 2021. 
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

An Important Step Toward Ending Widespread Abuses Against Women

This week the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, the highest body recommending judicial appointments, will consider the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would become the first woman appointed to the court.…
Justice Ayesha Malik Supreme Court Pakistan
News
Now that evacuations from Kabul’s airport have ended and the last foreign troops have gone, the focus shifts to the long-term human rights crisis in Afghanistan. The issue is what life will be like in Afghanistan—especially for women and girls—and what…
Women gather to demand their rights under Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 3, 2021.