The U.S. government issued a joint statement on Wednesday co-signed by countries and organizations including the U.K., EU and Canada, expressing concern for women and girls amid the current crisis in Afghanistan.
The signatories are “deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement,” the State Department statement said.
The statement called on those in positions of power in the country to “guarantee their protection.”
“Afghan women and girls, as all Afghan people, deserve to live in safety, security and dignity,” the statement continued.
“Any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented. We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard.”
The statement alluded to the Taliban’s imposition of Sharia law, which is a strict interpretation of Islamic law derived from the Quran.
When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, girls often did not go to school past the age of 10, and women were required to wear a burqa, a garment that covers the whole body and face with a mesh grill over the eyes, BBC News reported.
“We will monitor closely how any future government ensures rights and freedoms that have become an integral part of the life of women and girls in Afghanistan during the last twenty years,” the statement said.
The Taliban has indicated it plans to take a more moderate, modern approach to its rule of Afghanistan this time around.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group would honor women’s rights within the confines of Sharia law during a Tuesday news conference.
“We are going to allow women to work and study within our frameworks,” he said, according to the BBC. “Women are going to be very active within our society.”
Afghan women are skeptical of these claims, The Associated Press reported.
“The fact is that a future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people, that doesn’t harbor terrorists, and that protects the basic rights of its people, including the basic fundamental rights of half of its population, its women and girls — that is a government that we would be able to work with,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a media briefing.
He made it clear that the U.S. would not back a government that does not support those rights.
“The United States, as I’ve said before, has done more than any country in the world over the last 20 years to support Afghanistan’s women and girls,” Price said.
The U.S. is leading the effort “with the international community to make sure and to see to it that we are doing everything we can, speaking with one voice, and acting according to one script to preserve those gains because they are that important to us,” he added.
An Afghan woman was allegedly shot and killed by the Taliban on Tuesday for not wearing a burqa in public, Fox News reported.
The U.N. Security Council has called for “a new Government that is united, inclusive and representative — including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.”
“I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in remarks to the Security Council on Monday.
“It is essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected.”
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