Holding Taliban Accountable For Regressive Policies Against Women in Afghanistan, US Announces Fresh Set of Visa Sanctions Against Group

The latest: In a big announcement making sure there are more tangible actions against the Taliban for their rule which is stifling human rights and education in Afghanistan, the United States announced visa restrictions on current and former Taliban officials.

Go deeper:

  • The US Department of State made the announcement in response to the ban on education and work of Afghan girls and women.
  • What this means is that the US is holding Taliban officials accountable for their actions in how they are currently ruling Afghanistan.
  • According to a statement from the US State Department, the visa restrictions have been imposed on current and former officials of the Taliban, members of non-state armed groups, and other people who are involved in imposing restrictions and violence on women and girls.
  • However, the State Department did not name those who will be affected by the ban.
  • What is more important to note here that these fresh set of sanctions will also be imposed on family members of Taliban officials.
  • The statement also emphasized that the Taliban should not expect support from the international community if it doesn’t change its regressive policies and until the group respects human rights and basic freedom of all Afghans, including women and girls.
  • “The Taliban’s most recent edicts ban women from universities and from working with NGOs, and further the Taliban’s previous measures that closed secondary schools to girls and limit the ability of women and girls to participate in the Afghan society and economy,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
  • “Through these decisions, the Taliban have again shown their disregard for the welfare of the Afghan people,” he added.
  • Emphasizing that Taliban’s action will badly hurt the group’s global standing, Blinken said, “Taliban’s actions have forced over one million school-aged Afghan girls and young women out of the classroom, with more women out of universities and countless Afghan women out of the workforce. These numbers will only grow as time goes on, worsening the country’s already dire economic and humanitarian crises,” Blinken said.
  • Blinken also stated that equal access to education and work are essential components which make up the vitality and resiliency of entire populations.
  • The US also committed once again to working alongside allies to impose “significant costs” on the Taliban’s actions.

Back story: Last year too, the Department of State also announced restrictions on visas for Taliban members.

  • The announcement comes more than a month after the Taliban announced bans on women attending universities and working with non-governmental organizations. These decisions have contributed to the new visa bans and the State Department said that the US condemns the actions in “the strongest of terms.”
  • Since their return to power in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on Afghan women, banning them from holding public jobs, attending secondary schools and even going to parks.

Between the lines: However, look at how Pakistan is drawing attention to itself in a bad light with Pakistan’s Permanent Representative in the United Nations, Munir Akram, said that the Taliban’s ban on women’s education and work in Afghanistan is not a religious issue and is rooted in Pashtun culture.

  • Akram’s remarks, which stated that as part of the Pashtun culture it is enshrined that women should stay at home, have been met with sharp criticism.
  • Afrasiab Khattak, a former member of the Pakistan Senate, called these remarks an insult to Pashtuns. Shah Mahmoud Miakhil, Deputy Minister of Defense of the former Afghan government, said that millions of girls in the Pashtun areas on both sides of the Durand line, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, attend schools and are active members of their society.

Zoom out: Reacting to the US visa sanctions, Rina Amiri, US special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights, has said that Taliban are moving further away from the international community by imposing restrictions on women.

  • Amiri tweeted, “The message is clear: with every new restriction on Afghan women and girls, the Taliban moves further and further away from their goals promised to the international community, as in the 1990s.”
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