Afghanistan: Suppression of Women Hinders Nation’s Rebuilding

Suppression of women on an abnormal level that is rare in the world is occurring in Afghanistan. The Taliban, an Islamist group, must respond to the demands of the international community and cease their unjust policies.

Two years have passed since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. Politics of terror have been imposed and the suppression of women continues to intensify.

Afghan women are now only allowed to attend elementary school. Employment is severely restricted, and beauty parlors were recently ordered to close. Women are also prohibited from working for U.N. agencies and international nongovernmental organizations.

They are likewise banned from traveling long distances without being accompanied by a male relative and from entering amusement parks, parks and exercise gyms. They are essentially not being allowed to participate in society.

Respect for human rights and equal rights for men and women are universal values that must be upheld by all nations, regardless of their system of government, and these principles are stipulated in the U.N. Charter. A U.N. envoy requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Taliban’s oppression of women as a crime against humanity.

As a member of the United Nations, Afghanistan has a responsibility to take the situation seriously and correct it as soon as possible.

The Taliban’s suppression of women is based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Some moderate senior members who are tasked with actually governing the country are willing to recognize women’s rights to education and employment, but they have not been able to achieve this due to the strong influence of hard-line religious leaders.

How can a country develop if women, who make up half the population, are excluded?

When the Taliban seized power two years ago, they set forth policies to respect women’s rights “within the scope of Islamic law,” establish an “inclusive government” with broad political participation and sever ties with international terrorist organizations.

Many countries had conditioned their recognition of the Taliban administration on the fulfillment of these commitments, but none have been achieved. Leading figures from the previous pro-U.S. regime have been oppressed, and terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists continue.

Not a single country, not even Russia or China, has recognized the Taliban-led Afghanistan. The Taliban should face the reality that their way of governing is not recognized even by authoritarian and dictatorial countries.

Afghanistan’s finances have been supported by foreign aid since the previous administration. Countries have stopped providing assistance other than humanitarian aid through the United Nations. If this situation continues, Afghanistan will become so severely impoverished that the country will not be able to rebuild, and will instead be on the road to collapse.

Japan says it has been lobbying the Taliban to participate in international cooperation, but there has been little success. Japan must clearly demonstrate its strong stance to press the Taliban to reform the current situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2023)