The repression of Afghan women by the Taliban is a form of apartheid, and the world must fight it with the same tenacity it to oppose white authority in South Africa, said Nelson Mandel’s widow.
Graca Machel, one of the most prominent women’s rights advocates, has said that the Taliban should be “squeezed” to demonstrate that the global community finds their discrimination against Afghan women’s rights unacceptable, Daily Telegraph reported.
Since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, the group has intensified their restrictions and policies, isolating women from the public scene, including education, workplaces and gyms.
She told The Telegraph that “the world has been too tolerant of the insurgents-turned-rulers who have severely restricted women’s rights.”
Graca Machel said that the Taliban’s restriction on women “is a kind of apartheid, which is gender apartheid. I agree with that kind of definition.”
“But more than the definition, it is for me to say the same vigour and the same persistence which was applied to fight apartheid should be applied in the case of Afghanistan.”
She called the international community to “apply their minds with creativity and innovation”.
She also said: “The international community cannot leave it to the Taliban alone to decide about the future of 50 per cent of their population. We must find a creative way to engage them and challenge the Taliban to say this is humanly unacceptable and it’s unacceptable to discriminate simply because they are women.”
She called on the international community to pressure the Taliban to change their suppressive policies against Afghan women.
She believed that the international community had not put enough pressure on the group to change their policies in favour of women’s and girls’ rights.
Ms Machel said: “It took some decades, but it managed to change. The South African government of the time was forced to change by applying different methods; there were many methods used to squeeze the government to a point where it had to accept that it needed to change.”
She said: “I think so far, what is being applied against them is too soft. Because it’s too soft, they survive. They should be squeezed to understand the human family is not going to allow them to continue the way they are behaving. There have to be ways.”
Meanwhile, the international community should engage with Kabul to deliver humanitarian support to the most needful people living with starvation and dire humanitarian crises while finding ways to change the current scenario in favour of women’s rights, she added.