By guest contributor Shelal Lodhi Rajput, a student at Symbiosis Law School. 

Uncertain certainties: An eclipse on human rights

A country torn apart by war, a country that has seen 40 years of war, a country often referred to asgraveyard of empires,’ a country with the shattered dream of peace and a country with a million dollar question i.e., ‘Will the war ever end’? The country is Afghanistan, where things are going from bad to worse with the withdrawal of United States Combat troops. Once again history is repeating itself as the return of the Taliban spell suggests an end to civil liberty, basic human rights, prominently rights of women, and once again the regime of Talibanned as it existed in Afghanistan from 1996-2001. Previously, the Taliban regime banned several innocuous activities including kite flying, makeup artists and musicians.

The Taliban’s return to power is evident with every passing day, their insurgencies are increasing day by day and with the alarming rate they are capturing the provinces and cities in the country. The real threat from Taliban is not only limited to the democratic institution of Afghanistan but another concern is related to the violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The attacks in Afghanistan by terror outfits became a new normal in the span of 20 years and provide evidence for gross violations of International humanitarian law. 

Human rights violations: Taliban regime

Under the Taliban regime from 1996-2001, women in Afghanistan were subjected to enormous and systematic abuses of their human rights. The Taliban remains deeply misogynistic in its every approach as their rule was renowned for denying women and girls access to education, work, freedom of travel, and health care, as well as subjecting them to brutality such as public lashings or stoning executions. 

The U.S. Department of State released a report titled Taliban’s War Against Women that explains how the Taliban regime denied the very basic rights to women that are essential for someone to live.  The Taliban wants an Islamic system and wants to rule it with the Sharia law as they claim but in reality Taliban is just oppressing human rights in the name of Islamic law and particularly the rights of women. It is an alarming time that embodies fear for Afghan women because if the Taliban comes into power then women will once again lose their hard-won rights.

Violation of international laws

The Taliban are violating international human rights law on a regular basis by engaging in widespread discrimination and violence against women. The Taliban and every regime in Afghanistan need to adhere to the fundamental principles of international human rights law and specifically by the treaties ratified by Afghanistan. The major treaties that are signed and acceded by Afghanistan is ICCPR and ICESR as ratified on January 24, 1983. Afghanistan signed CEDAW on August 14, 1980, and then signed CRC on September 27, 1990 and ratified CRC on March 28, 1994. 

Women’s rights: an unknown term for the Taliban

The Taliban’s irrational and discriminatory policies that prohibit women to have basic rights is violating the two major treaties:ICCPR and ICESCR. The Taliban’s imposition of extreme forms of limitations on women’s freedom cannot be justified as it is a clear violation of Article 19 of ICCPR. The Taliban’s rules and actions basically establish an indefinite restriction on all association, assembly, and freedom of movement for women especially as they cannot roam freely without their male family members and it is a clear violation of Article 22 and 21 of ICCPR and Article 13 and 2 of UDHR. The violation is not only restricted to women but the conditions of women are devastating and miserable. Afghan women even can’t enjoy basic rights due to discriminatory and orthodox ideology of the Taliban. For instance, they don’t have rights to education, right to work, right to express and many more.

Women in Afghanistan endure not only discriminatory Taliban orders, but they are also subjected to summary physical punishment without the safeguards of due process. States are obligated under international law to pursue abuses of bodily integrity and to take steps to safeguard women from gender-based violence and discrimination. Now, with the latest development in Afghanistan it is essential that the rights of women are protected and they shall not be the price of peace in the region as the ongoing talks of Taliban and Afghan government are completely opaque.

The major concern is the safeguard of basic human rights of Afghan people. The number of attacks and targeted assassinations of activists and journalists has grown. Human rights defenders have continued to face intimidation, assault, and murder. The deteriorating economic and social conditions of women and girls throughout Afghanistan, as evidenced by ongoing and confirmed complaints of egregious breaches of human rights. A sad aspect about the women’s rights in Afghanistan is the deep rooted notion of inferiority of women as compared to men i.e., patriarchy and hence even the government at some part stands in a dubious state. In the holistic picture the current problem is of Taliban but it is not wrong to say that Afghan government is also unreliable supporters towards women rights specifically. 

Unwanted change: shattering the spirit of women 

There is a paradigm shift, as it was typical to hear from Afghan feminists arguing that no discussions should take place with the Taliban, a party that refused to accept women’s full humanity and their fundamental rights. Today, those calls are almost non-existent. Even the most ardent proponents of women’s rights have come to understand that the only way to peace in Afghanistan is via discussions with the Taliban. A minute shift has been observed in the approach of Taliban towards girls education for primary schooling but only a few commanders allowed it and the majority still holds the orthodox views that possess a real threat to autonomy of women. It is highly ironical to even mention it but Taliban argued that they will grant all rights to women that are granted by Islam and we had witnessed one of the inhumane treatment of women for 1996-2000. 

The Taliban is always known for its patriarchal, hostile sexism and misogynist approach and the war going on in Afghanistan is for peace but an internal war that is also going on is for the rights of women. In toto, survival of Afghanistan is in jeopardy with the alarming sign of deterioration of rights of Afghan people. The country has witnessed an exodus due to the rise of the Taliban in the country. 

The final say

To sum it up, a bad precedent of history is repeating itself as foreign troops are withdrawing and leaving the country suddenly on their own fate. The peace deal does not seem a deal towards peace as we have seen the rise of the Taliban in just a few months. With the rising threats to the rights of Afghan people it is a moral duty of the international community to ensure that the rights and liberties of women shall be maintained. But it is far from a dream that we can understand from the current chaos in the country. The Taliban went back to its old ways and suppressed human rights, women’s rights. In toto, it is the return of dark days in Afghanistan as the Taliban is taking over the control and imposing strict restrictions on women and media.

Photo Credit

Photo 1: “Women’s photojournalism course in Farah City, Afghanistan” by ResoluteSupportMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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