Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-profit organization, said on Friday that Taliban authorities in Afghanistan are committing gender discrimination against women and girls. Following the conclusion of the report, international justice director at HRW Elizabeth Evenson called for coordinated support by from the international community to ensure that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the resources and needed cooperation to investigate this crime and provide accountability for gender persecution.
HRW started researching Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. The report found that gender persecution in Afghanistan takes the forms of:
restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, and association;
- restrictions on employment;
- restrictions on dress;
- bans on education; and
- arbitrary arrests and violations of the right to liberty.
- While men also suffer from certain kinds of restrictions and violations of human rights, HRW found that the all-encompassing restrictions against women show that women are suffering from significantly worse human rights violations. Women’s employment opportunities are shrinking, for example. The December 2022 Taliban Order prohibiting women from working in international or domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is an example of this type of restriction. Comparatively, men face fewer restrictions in the workplace. Dress codes, education bans and access to public places and transportation are all examples of the different restrictions that men and women face. The Rome Statute defines a crime against mankind as an act that is widespread or part of a systematic assault against civilians. The acts must also be with knowledge of the attack and are pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy to commit such attack.
Afghanistan has been a party to the Rome Statute since February 2023 which grants the ICC jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan. In October 2022, the ICC reopened its investigation into the Afghan situation. In addition, ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor also launched its Policy on Gender Persecution to pool its resources on investigating and prosecuting sexual and gender-based violence crimes, including gender persecution.
Different organizations have recently called for sanctions against Afghanistan for the Taliban’s human rights violation policies. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy to Global Education in mid-August of this year, called for Taliban leaders to be prosecuted at the ICC under the charge of gender persecution. Amnesty International called for universal jurisdiction just two weeks earlier against Taliban officials accused of violating international law.