Afghanistan: Talks Shouldn't Ignore Taliban Abuse of Women

Ongoing Taliban attacks on women in Afghanistan show why women’s rights should be a priority in any political agreement with insurgent forces, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Afghan government and its international supporters have ignored the need to protect women in programs to reintegrate insurgent fighters and have not guaranteed that women’s rights will be included in potential talks with the Taliban, Human Rights Watch said.

The 65-page report, "The ‘Ten-Dollar Talib’ and Women’s Rights:  Afghan Women and the Risks of Reintegration and Reconciliation," addresses the potential challenges to women’s rights posed by future government agreements with insurgent forces. The report describes how in areas under Taliban control, women are often subjected to threats, intimidation and violence, girls’ education is targeted, and women political leaders and activists are attacked and killed with impunity.

"Afghan women shouldn’t have to give up their rights so the government can cut a deal with the Taliban," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director at Human Rights Watch.  "It would be a tragic betrayal to snatch away the progress made by and for women and girls over the past nine years." In areas they control or influence, the Taliban have threatened and attacked women in public life and ordinary women who work outside their homes. A common form of threat is the "night letter," a note often left at a house or school. A female government employee quit her job after receiving this letter in February 2010:  "We Taliban warn you to stop working for the government otherwise we will take your life away. We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This will be a good lesson for those women like you who are working."

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