UN voices concern over reports of further curbs on rights of Afghan women

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 3, 202. PHOTO | AP| FILE

 The UN mission in Afghanistan has expressed its deep concern over reports of women in Afghanistan being prevented from using parks, gyms and baths, and urged the Taliban to respect female citizens' "access to all forms of public life."

Last week, the Taliban prohibited Afghan women from visiting all public parks in the country. Taliban spokesperson said they have also banned women's public bathhouses as they are contrary to the sharia law.

"UNAMA is deeply concerned by recent Taliban officials' statements and mounting on-the-ground reports of women being prevented from using parks, gyms and baths. All Afghans' rights should be upheld, particularly women's access to all forms of public life and girls right to education," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) wrote on Twitter.

Since the return of the Taliban to Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban's systematic attacks on the rights of women and girls and the use of violence, including torture and enforced disappearances, have created a culture of fear in Afghan society.

A number of rights groups have called on the Taliban to reverse its recent decision to stop women from visiting public parks in Kabul.

The European Union (EU) has also condemned the additional restrictions by the Taliban on women's freedom of movement, including the barring women from entering public parks and gyms.

"These restrictions come in addition to the already severe violations by the Taliban of the rights of Afghan women and girls - in contradiction to Taliban's own initial promises," the 27-member bloc said in a statement on Monday.

Afghan women and girls remain deprived of secondary education, face restrictions in their travel and movement, and are excluded from most aspects of public and economic life," it added.

With the Taliban back in power, women have been barred from exercising their basic rights such as freedom of movement, right to education and political participation.

In the statement, Amnesty International said that the Taliban also decimated institutions designed to address cases of domestic violence against women under the former government.

"The Taliban have unlawfully arrested, detained and tortured women peaceful posters including several women activists arrested just days previously," the group added.