July 22, 2024

Oct. 2—Why it matters: Without international pressure, the future of women and their young daughters in Afghanistan will be bleak.

Members of the United Nations, including the U.S., must use their influence to halt the Taliban’s persecution of women in Afghanistan.

Generations of women and their young daughters are in danger, and the world can’t stand by and let their mistreatment continue. Human rights obligations are not being met and world leaders need to take action.

The U.N. General Assembly met in New York last week. Sima Bahous, head of the U.N.’s agency promoting gender equality, told the Security Council that women in Afghanistan have little to live for: “They tell us that they are prisoners living in darkness, confined to their homes without hope or future.”

As executive director of U.N. Women, Bahous said more than 50 increasingly dire Taliban edicts are being enforced with more severity, including by male family members. A recent study shows that the action is exacerbating mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, especially among young women.

It’s no surprise that when the U.S. and the U.N. pulled its troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 that the Taliban would be in power. Since then, Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education. The Taliban leadership also doesn’t believe women should participate in anything social or public.

This is not just an Afghanistan problem. This is a global problem, with the status of women and girls in that country affecting its future, stability and dealings with other countries.

Bahous is urging the U.N. to declare “gender apartheid.” Although under international law, apartheid is a system of legalized racial segregation originating in South Africa, a growing number of international experts, officials and activists say apartheid also can apply to gender where women and girls face systematic discrimination, according to The Associated Press.

There is no doubt Afghanistan fits that definition.

The U.N. and other international leaders must figure out ways to pressure the Taliban to stop its mistreatment of women and adhere to human rights obligations. Countries can no longer operate in a vacuum. International acceptance is needed for countries to thrive economically, which Afghanistan is struggling with. Global pressure likely will be the only rescue plan for women in Afghanistan.

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