UN expert calls for 'gender apartheid' crime in response to Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul, Afghanistan.
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, FileA Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul, Afghanistan.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights calls on countries to change international law, to hold Taliban government accountable

The UN’s top expert on human rights in Afghanistan called on countries to change international statutes in order for “gender apartheid” to become a crime against humanity, as a means to hold the Taliban government accountable.

"It is imperative that we do not look away," United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, told the Human Rights Council on Monday.

"Grave, systematic and institutionalised discrimination against women and girls is at the heart of Taliban ideology and rule, which also gives rise to concerns that they may be responsible for gender apartheid", he said.

“Serious human rights violations, which although not yet an explicit international crime, requires further study," Bennett suggested, as he presented his latest report on the situation in Afghanistan. His solution would be to make the Taliban’s actions constitute a crime against humanity for “gender persecution.”

The UN previously labeled the Taliban’s policies against women in Afghanistan as "gender-based apartheid,” and Bennett wants the international body to change the Rome Statute to consider it as an international crime against humanity.

Fabrice COFFRINI / AFPGeneral view at the opening of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Afghanistan in Geneva.

Furthermore, it called on the participating countries to "mandate a report on gender apartheid as an institutionalised system of discrimination, segregation, humiliation and exclusion of women and girls".

With a purpose of “developing further normative standards and tools, galvanising international legal condemnation and action to end it and ensure its non-repetition".

Taliban authorities imposed sharia law in Afghanistan, not allowing girls over the age of 12 to attend school, stopping women from working in several jobs, and preventing them from traveling without a male relative.

There have been a number of poisoning at institutions that teach girls, which also occurred during the previous foreign-backed Afghan government. The tragic fate of women’s rights is also found in neighboring Iran, which in terms of poisongs, has affected around 13,000 pupils since November.

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