Written By: Hakim Bigzaam
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) reports that, in coordination with several members of the British Parliament, it has launched an investigation into the situation of women in Afghanistan and Iran. The IBAHRI currently has this issue under scrutiny.
While international law does not explicitly criminalize “gender apartheid,” the IBAHRI states on its website that what women in Afghanistan and Iran experience qualifies as “gender apartheid.”
According to the institute, women lawyers, politicians, scholars, and human rights defenders in Afghanistan and Iran, along with international activists and experts, are demanding the recognition of the status of women and girls in both countries as a form of gender apartheid.
The institute’s website highlights that women in Afghanistan and Iran are at a stage of societal exclusion, and an examination of their situation as “gender apartheid” is deemed essential.
It should be noted that United Nations experts have referred to the restrictions imposed on women’s lives in Afghanistan as “sexual harassment.” However, Richard Bennett, the UN Human Rights Rapporteur on Afghanistan, stated in his April report that what women in this country endure could be reconsidered as an instance of gender apartheid.
Richard Goldstone, a retired judge from the Constitutional Court of South Africa, stated: “In South Africa, systematic discrimination against the majority of its population based on race was practised. That was apartheid. Therefore, in Afghanistan and Iran, systematic discrimination against all women and girls is practised.”
Mr. Goldstone added that the recognition of gender apartheid in international law is considered essential.
In Iran, women do not have free choice in selecting their fields of study, while in Afghanistan, educating and teaching girls is prohibited. In the former, women are banned from working, entering public places such as parks and restaurants, and traveling under the rule of the Taliban regime.