Afghanistan: Crackdown continues on women's rights, UN says

The Taliban continue to crack down on women's rights, including denying women health care services if they are not accompanied by a male guardian, a new UN report has said

Older generations remember the Taliban’s previous rule, when they largely confined women to their homes and banned television and music. (photo: DW)
Older generations remember the Taliban’s previous rule, when they largely confined women to their homes and banned television and music. (photo: DW)


The Taliban are restricting Afghan women's access to work, travel and healthcare if they are unmarried or don't have a male guardian, according to a new UN report published on Monday, 22 January.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its latest report, covering October to December, that the Taliban are cracking down on Afghan women's access to public life.

Further restrictions on Afghan women

There are no official laws about male guardianship in Afghanistan, but the Taliban have said women cannot move around or travel a certain distance without a man who is related to her by blood or by marriage.

The report mentioned how three female health workers were detained last October because they were without a male guardian.

They were only released after their families signed a written guarantee the women would not repeat the act, according to the report released on Monday.

In southeast Afghanistan's Paktia province, the Vice and Virtue Ministry has stopped women without male guardians from accessing health facilities since December.

Women barred from education and public space

Since taking over Afghanistan in 2021, following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, the Taliban have imposed an array of restrictions targeting women.

Earlier this month, the regime said they had arrested a woman for wearing a "bad hijab" in the first official confirmation of a crackdown on women who don't follow a dress code imposed in 2022.

The Taliban have barred Afghan girls from going to school beyond sixth grade and prohibited women from local jobs and nongovernmental organizations. They have ordered the closure of beauty salons and barred women from going to gyms and parks.

Taliban responds to UN report

The harsh measures have prompted a fierce backlash from many countries and the regime, an ultraconservative Islamist group that had ruled the country previously in the 1990s, is not recognized by most countries.

The Taliban's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the UN report was based mostly on misunderstandings and accused the mission of ignoring or criticizing Islamic law, or Shariah.

With an Islamic government in power in Afghanistan, it must "fully implement all aspects of Shariah for both men and women," Mujahid said in a statement.

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Published: 23 Jan 2024, 11:20 AM