Amnesty International Urges Aid for Afghan Women and Girls Subjected to Taliban Violence

Since the Taliban retook the country, survivors of gender-based violence in Afghanistan have been forced to go back to their families, live with shelter staff members, on the street, or in other unsustainable situations.

Afghan school children attend class in June 8, 2009, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.N. Photo / Fardin Waezi)

“Women and girl survivors of gender-based violence have essentially been abandoned in Afghanistan. Their network of support has been dismantled, and their places of refuge have all but disappeared,” wrote Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, in a Dec. 6 report conducted by Amnesty International.

In interviews by Amnesty, 26 survivors and service providers from 10 provinces raised concerns over the closing of the shelters and releasing of more than 3,000 convicted of gender-based violence. “It defies belief that the Taliban threw open prison doors across the country, with no thought of the risks that convicted perpetrators pose to the women and girls they victimized, and to those who worked with survivors.”

According to Amnesty International by credible reports, survivors have also been transferred by the Taliban into the detention system—including the infamous Pul-e-Charkhi prison, near Kabul.

Amnesty International urged the international community to provide immediate long-term funding to protect gender-based violence survivors and defenders because “they are now at risk of violence and death.” 

Prior to Taliban takeover of the country, Afghan women and girls survivors of sexual violence “had access to a nationwide network of shelters and services, including pro-bono legal representation, medical treatment, and psychosocial support.” The majority of those women, according to Amnesty, were referred into the system from provincial and capital offices of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Human Rights Commission, as well as from shelters, hospitals and police stations across the country. But since the Taliban retook the country, women and girls survivors were “forced to go back to their families, live with shelter staff members, on the street, or in other unsustainable situations.” 

Human Rights Watch and the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.) both also have found that domestic violence shelters were quickly closed by the Taliban as soon as it took over the country, and the group has closed the women’s affairs ministry, replacing it with the headquarters for its “morality police.”

“We are very concerned about the safety of the survivors as well as shelter employees, judges and attorneys who helped the survivors of the domestic violence,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.  

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