UNITED NATIONS: Stepping up the pressure on the Afghan Taliban, the UN Security Council has called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan, denouncing a ban on women attending universities or working for humanitarian aid groups.

“The members of the Security Council are deeply alarmed by reports that the Taliban have suspended access to universities for women and girls, and reiterated their deep concern of the suspension of school beyond the sixth grade...,” the 15-member body said in a unanimously agreed statement.

The council urged the Taliban “to reopen schools and swiftly reverse these policies and practices, which represent an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed the Security Council’s message, calling the latest restrictions on women and girls “unjustifiable human rights violations” that “must be revoked”.

Meanwhile, Shariah justice has returned to Afghan courts.

While hundreds of millions of dollars were spent building a new judicial system after the Taliban were overthrown in 2001 — a combination of Islamic and secular law, with qualified prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges bringing more gender balance to family courts — all that has been scrapped by the Taliban, with trials, sentences and punishments now overseen by all-male clerics.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2022

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