Former Afghan MP claims that the Taliban is a "gender apartheid" dictatorship

In response to the Taliban's repression of human rights, a former member of Afghanistan's parliament pleaded with the international community on Monday to label the Taliban a "gender apartheid" regime. He claimed that the South African apartheid label served as a catalyst for change and could do the same for Afghanistan. Women's rights activist Naheed Farid, the youngest politician ever elected to parliament in 2010, said at a UN news conference that she was "hearing more and more stories from Afghan women choosing suicide due to harsh limitations on women's movements, the abolition of secondary school education for girls, and the prohibition on jobs for women. The fact that Afghan women and girls are choosing death as an alternative to living under the Taliban government, she continued, is the best indication of how dire their position is for them. Women and girls faced severe restrictions under the Taliban's initial administration of Afghanistan, which lasted from 1996 to 2001. Women were forbidden from attending school and were also obliged to wear the restrictive burqa. Taliban pledged a more moderate version of Islamic government, including allowing women to complete their education and work outside the home, after seizing control of the capital on August 15, 2021, as US and Nato forces were stumbling through their disorderly exit from Afghanistan after 20 years. Although they also promised to enforce Sharia or Islamic law, they initially declared there would be no clothing code. However, the Taliban's hardliners have since resumed their strict rule, confirming the worst suspicions of human rights advocates and making relations with the international community even more difficult. Farid urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other countries to establish a platform for Afghan women to actively talk with the Taliban on women's and human rights issues. She also encouraged governments to maintain sanctions against the Taliban, to keep all 183 Taliban leaders on the UN sanctions blacklist, prohibit Taliban officials from attending UN meetings, and to include women in all delegations engaging with the Taliban. UN Ambassador for Norway Mona Juul claimed that a year after the Taliban took control, "the situation of women and girls has deteriorated at a stunning scale and speed." Norway is in charge of overseeing Afghanistan-related problems in the UN Security Council and organized the press conference. She cited Afghanistan as one example of a country that currently only allows girls to complete the sixth grade in terms of education. Feminist and human rights activist Najiba Sanjar stated that she was speaking to represent the voices of the 17 million Afghan women and girls who now lack a voice. According to her comments to the media, “We are all watching the sufferings of women, girls, and minorities from the screens of our TVs as if an action movie is right in front of our eyes, a serious injustice is happening. And by remaining complacent and accepting it as the new normal, we are all passively witnessing and participating in this sin. Sanjar pleaded with world leaders to use all available pressure on the Taliban to defend the rights of women and minorities to employment and education while withholding diplomatic recognition. Given that women's rights are fundamental human rights, the situation is already upsetting for all women worldwide, she continued.