AWCSWO chief to Jusoor Post: Taliban’s escalating atrocities against women, girls must be addressed urgently

AWCSWO chief to Jusoor Post: Taliban’s escalating atrocities against women, girls must be addressed urgently
Afghan women with burqa- AFP

Since the de facto authority of the Taliban took over power in mid-August 2021 following the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, women and girls have been experiencing tougher restrictions in terms of freedom of expression, education, work, traveling, and clothes, culminating in a real “gender apartheid.”


United Nations experts have warned that state laws, policies, and practices that perpetuate extreme inequality and oppression against women, aiming to systematically undermine their human rights, epitomize the essence of apartheid systems.


“The Taliban’s rule makes codifying gender apartheid in international law particularly urgent, as it would allow the international community to better identify and address the regime’s attacks on Afghan women and girls for what they are,” the experts said on February 20.


In this regard, Jusoor Post interviewed the leader and founder of the Afghanistan Women’s and Children Strengthen Welfare Organization (AWCSWO), Maryam Marof Arwin.


AWCSWO was founded in May 2017 with an objective of supporting the rights of women and children as a fundamental aspect of achieving gender equality in a free society free from violence and discrimination.


The organization also works to provide educational facilities for women and girls, ensure access to health and hygiene for women and children, and ensure victims of violence have access to mental health counseling.


Following is the edited text of the interview.



What measures are NGOs and civil society taking to urge the UN to recognize gender apartheid in Afghanistan under Taliban rule?


NGOs and civil society organizations are employing various measures to press the United Nations to acknowledge the existence of gender apartheid in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban group. These measures include:


  1. Advocacy and awareness campaigns: NGOs and civil society groups are actively raising awareness about the issue of gender apartheid through social media campaigns, public demonstrations, and engagement with international organizations.


  1. Lobbying and advocacy at the UN: These organizations are lobbying UN member states and engaging with UN bodies, such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, to prioritize the issue of gender apartheid in Afghanistan.


  1. Documentation and reporting: NGOs are documenting human rights violations, particularly those related to gender-based discrimination and violence, and sharing this information with the UN and other relevant international bodies to substantiate their claims.


  1. Coalition-building: NGOs and civil society organizations are forming alliances and partnerships to amplify their voices and increase their advocacy efforts. They collaborate to create coordinated strategies and initiatives aimed at gaining recognition of gender apartheid in Afghanistan.


  1. Engaging with policymakers: These organizations are engaging with policymakers at national and international levels to influence policy decisions addressing the issue of gender apartheid. They provide recommendations based on real-time information and raise concerns during policy discussions.


  1. International pressure: NGOs and civil society groups are mobilizing public opinion internationally to generate pressure on the UN and member states to recognize the severity of gender apartheid in Afghanistan. They organize campaigns, petitions, and encourage global solidarity to raise awareness and create momentum for action.


It's important to note that the specific measures taken may vary among different NGOs and civil society organizations, but the overall aim is to put pressure on the UN to recognize and address the issue of gender apartheid in Afghanistan under the Taliban's rule.



After a significant number of women were arrested by the Taliban police for not adhering to the strict hijab regulations, did this lead to more women choosing to wear the chadari (garment worn by Afghan women that covers the body and face)?


The arrests of a significant number of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan for not adhering to their interpretation of “proper hijab” may have influenced some women to opt for wearing the chadari, also known as the burqa. The fear of repercussions and the desire to protect themselves from further arrests could have led to an increase in the number of women choosing to wear the chadari as a form of perceived safety or compliance. However, it's important to note that individual responses may vary based on personal beliefs, cultural contexts, and other factors.



Recently, it has been reported by media outlets that the Taliban has imposed a ban on media receiving phone calls from women and girls in Khost Province. How did women in the province react to this ban? Did media institutions comply with it?


The ban imposed by the Taliban on media receiving phone calls from women and girls in Khost Province has raised concerns. However, specific information about women's reactions to this ban in the province is not available at the moment. It would be necessary to rely on firsthand accounts or reports from local sources to understand the sentiments and experiences of women in response to this restriction. As for media institutions, their compliance with the ban would also depend on various factors, such as their priorities, the local environment, and the potential repercussions they may face. 



In terms of education, do you have information on the current illiteracy rates, particularly considering the ban on female children beyond the sixth grade from attending school? Additionally, what role does homeschooling play in preventing illiteracy rates from increasing among female students?


The illiteracy rate, particularly among females, can be influenced by various factors, including the ban on female children beyond the sixth grade from attending school imposed by the Taliban. Unfortunately, I don't have access to real-time data on the specific extent to which the illiteracy rate may have risen due to this ban. However, it is evident that restricting access to education for female students has the potential to negatively impact literacy rates among them.


Regarding homeschooling, while it can be an alternative for education, it may not be easily accessible or practical for all families, especially in regions where resources and support for homeschooling are limited. The effectiveness of homeschooling in preventing the decline of female literacy rates relies heavily on individual circumstances, including parental ability, access to educational materials, and community support.


In a disturbing development in Kandahar province, the Taliban group has taken a harsh stance by not allowing girls over the age of 10 to attend school in the upcoming academic year. This decision marks a significant regression, as underage girls were previously permitted to receive education up until the sixth grade.


‎The atrocities committed by the Taliban are escalating with each passing day, prompting concern from the international community and the United Nations. The flagrant violation of basic human rights, particularly denying young girls the right to education, is deplorable and must be addressed with urgency.


‎The members of the Purple Saturdays movement vehemently condemn this action by the Taliban group. They call for the international community and the United Nations to hold the Taliban accountable for every crime they commit, including this blatant infringement on the rights of young girls to access education. It is imperative that justice is served and the perpetrators are brought to justice for their heinous acts. 



It has been reported that female high school graduates in Afghanistan are enrolling in state-run medical institutes. Do you believe this decision was made to provide medical services to sick and pregnant women, considering they are often prevented from seeking care from male doctors?


The decision of female high school graduates in Afghanistan to enroll in state-run medical institutes may indeed be influenced by the need to provide medical services to sick and pregnant women, considering the restrictions imposed on women seeking medical care from male doctors. By having more female healthcare professionals, there is a higher likelihood of creating a safe and comfortable environment for women to receive medical attention without facing cultural or religious barriers. However, this is a supposition based on the reported context, and further research and analysis would be needed to fully understand the motivations behind this decision.