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August 24, 2021 2:23 pm
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‘The Women of Afghanistan Must Be Heard’: Israel’s Ambassador to UN Demands Equal Rights for Afghans at Human Rights Council

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Demonstrators in Washington, DC protesting the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters/ Matthew Rodier/Sipa USA

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva urged member states to safeguard the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban.

“Israel remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan. We are extremely concerned about reports of violent crackdowns against civilian population and human rights defenders,” Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar said at special session by the Human Rights Council on Afghanistan. “The women of Afghanistan must be listened to. They must be heard.”

Eilon Shahar said that Israel has also been alarmed by reports of targeted killings of those defending women’s rights, and that it condemns violence against women and girls.

“Women and girls should not be scared to walk the streets, they should not be intimidated when they go to school, and they should not be subjected to violence for what they wear,” she added.

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Also speaking at the special meeting on Afghanistan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for close monitoring of the evolving human rights situation in the country.

Following the seizure of Afghan capital Kabul by the Taliban on Aug. 15, the Islamist movement claimed it was seeking peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law. But already, as Western troops at Kabul airport continued to work frantically on Tuesday to evacuate people from Afghanistan before Aug. 31 deadline, fear is growing of reprisals and a return to the harsh version of Islamic law that the militant group imposed when in power from 1996 to 2001.

Bachelet said that her office has received “credible reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law, and human rights abuses, taking place in many areas under effective Taliban control.”

“They include, among others, summary executions of civilians and hors de combat members of the Afghan national security forces; restrictions on the rights of women — including their right to move around freely and girls’ right to attend schools; recruitment of child soldiers; and repression of peaceful protest and expression of dissent,” Bachelet said.

Bachelet called the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, and respect for their rights to education, self expression and employment, a “fundamental red line.”

“In particular, ensuring access to quality secondary education for girls will be an essential indicator of commitment to human rights,” she added.

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