Monday, 5 June, 2023

UN to hold talks with Taliban officials over women staff ban

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan will hold talks Wednesday with Taliban officials in Kabul "to seek clarity" on a new government ban that blocks women from working for the world body across the country.

Since seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban authorities have imposed a slew of restrictions on Afghan women, including banning them from higher education and many government jobs.

The increasing restrictions are reminiscent of the Taliban's first government between 1996 and 2001, when the UN said they were responsible for repeated human rights violations -- particularly against girls and women.

On Tuesday, the UN said the Taliban government had extended a ban on women working for non-governmental organisations to the world body.

Since surging back to power, the Taliban government has imposed an austere interpretation of Islam.

Authorities have barred teenage girls from secondary school, women have been pushed out of many government jobs, prevented from travelling without a male relative and ordered to cover up outside of the home, ideally with a burqa.

Women have also been banned from universities and are not allowed to enter parks or gardens.

UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett said in a recent speech in Geneva that the Taliban authorities' policy "may amount to the crime of gender persecution".