Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch urged world leaders to back a treaty on crimes against humanity, emphasizing the need for more support for women and the inclusion of gender apartheid in it.
She emphasized the necessity of establishing a mechanism for collecting evidence of crimes against Afghan women.
She wrote on the organization’s website that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and several other organizations have acknowledged that the Taliban have committed sexual abuse, gender-based violence, and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.
The Deputy Women’s Rights Director of Human Rights Watch stated that addressing these crimes falls within the jurisdiction of national and international courts, including the International Criminal Court (ICC).
She also called for countries to support special rapporteurs and other human rights experts in Afghanistan.
She said that the UN special rapporteur and other human rights experts are expected to present their reports to the UN Human Rights Council by June 2024 on actions against “institutionalized discrimination, gender segregation, disrespect for human dignity, and the expulsion of women and girls” by the Taliban.
Ms. Heather Barr stated that regarding international courts, political leaders must ensure that these courts and others have the necessary resources and cooperation to hold Taliban leaders accountable for sexual abuse.
She added that a case should be filed in the International Criminal Court regarding the violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women by the Taliban, which Afghanistan ratified unconditionally in 2003.
Ms.Barr noted that in over two years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the most serious women’s rights crisis has emerged.
She stated that the international community’s response to Taliban behavior has been weak, and the negative consequences for women and girls’ rights worldwide have not been addressed. She warned that the world’s response to the situation in Afghanistan will have a profound impact on gender equality elsewhere.
This human rights official added that due to the Ukraine war and new conflicts in the Middle East, the Afghanistan crisis has largely disappeared from the headlines.
Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan
Heather Barr highlighted Afghanistan’s dismal ranking in the women, peace, and security index, with the UN special rapporteur denouncing the situation as an “unprecedented destruction of women’s rights.”
Afghan women, along with UN officials and various organizations, have labeled the Taliban’s treatment of women as “gender apartheid,” emphasizing the severity of the oppression faced.
The Human Rights Watch official pointed out the dire consequences faced by girls and women who speak out against abuses, including forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture, as well as widespread detention for perceived immodesty.
Describing responses from governments and international bodies as weak and non-feminist, Heather Barr criticized the scattered, political, and indifferent approach, highlighting the failure to effectively address violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan and the potential negative impact of engagement with the Taliban.