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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.
News
On the campaign trail and during his first three months in office, President Biden promised a US return to a multilateral foreign policy that supports human rights. That is an important vision for the Middle East, a region often destabilized…
President Joe Biden speaks about foreign policy, at the State Department in Washington, February 4, 2021. 
News

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.
News

Allegations Against NY Governor Cuomo Highlight Need for Real Protections

The sexual harassment accusations against New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo are mounting as women turn to the media — on Twitter, in a personal essay, and in high-profile interviews with national news outlets — to detail their allegations against…
Lindsey Boylan, a former state economic development adviser for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaks in front of microphones and a crowd of people holding signs at a rally in New York City, March 20, 2021. 
News

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.
News

As Outrage Against Abuses Grows, Fix Bill’s Major Gaps and Pass It

(Beirut) – Iran should address gaps in its long-awaited draft law on violence against women that offers limited protections for survivors of domestic violence, and put it before the parliament for a vote, Human Rights Watch said today. Over the…
Iranian women wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus walk at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran on February 20, 2020.
News

Abortion Restrictions Defeated; Paid Family Leave, Mandatory Sex Education Adopted

With all eyes seemingly on the US presidential election, it’s easy to miss some of the exciting progress made on gender equality at the state level. Colorado voters had two big initiatives on their ballot, one to expand paid family and medical…
Boxes of vote-by-mail ballot envelopes are shown at the King County election headquarters in Renton, Washington, October 23, 2020. 
News

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…
News

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
News

Entrenched Discrimination, Violence Mar Gains 25 Years after Beijing

(New York) – Governments should mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020 with moves to expedite progress on gender equality, Human Rights Watch said today. They should plan for concerted action and dedicate resources to prevent…
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News
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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October 10 is a historic day in Iran – For the first time, women will be allowed the basic right to attend a FIFA World Cup qualifier match. But why is there a seat limit for women? Iran’s Azadi (Freedom) Stadium holds 85,000 people, but only 3,000 seats…
News

FIFA Should Urgently Overturn Discriminatory Ticket Limit of 4,600 Women

(New York) – Iran’s plan to cap the number of women who can attend a football World Cup qualifier match in Tehran is discriminatory, deceptive, and dangerous, Human Rights Watch said today.   Tickets to the historic…
Female Iranian spectators cheer as they wave their country's flag during a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia, at the Azadi (Freedom) stadium, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.
News

FIFA Should Enforce Nondiscrimination Rules, Secure Women’s Release

(New York) – The Iranian government should release women detained because they are alleged to have dressed as men to circumvent a ban on women attending football matches, Human Rights Watch said today. Among the women reportedly detained on August…
Supporters of Iran watch the Morocco vs Iran match in a fan zone in Moscow, Russa, on June 15, 2018.
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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.
News

Lawyers, Women’s Rights Activists Arrested

(Beirut) – Iranian authorities have ramped up their crackdown against human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch said today. Since August 31, 2018, they have arrested four more human rights defenders, as well as Reza Khandan, husband of…
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and Farhad Meysami, a human rights defender, protest the suspension of  Sotoudeh's law license in front of the Tehran bar association in Tehran, February 2015.
News

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.
News

Opening World Cup Screening, Volleyball Matches Are Steps in Right Direction

(Beirut) – Iranian authorities and the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) should ensure that women and girls can freely attend all future men’s sports matches in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. On June…
Women watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup match between Iran and Portugal in a public viewing event at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran on June 25, 2018. © 2018 Getty Images
News
  “Evelina” (not her real name), 17, looks immaculate in her pressed white-and-blue school uniform and her neatly divided cornrows, as she futilely tries to escape the sweltering heat of western Kenya beneath a shady tree. Her black leather shoes…
“Evelina,” 17, with her 3-year-old daughter “Hope,” in Migori county, western Kenya. Evelina is in Form 2, the second year of lower secondary school.