Taliban say overturning restrictions against Afghan women, not a priority: Report
The Taliban administration in Afghanistan said on Saturday (January 14) that overturning restrictions against women is not a priority, weeks after it passed two orders banning university education for women and banning women from working for aid groups. The Taliban said that it would not permit any acts which violate Islamic law and the concerns regarding the restrictions will be dealt with according to the established rule of the Islamic Emirate in the country, a report by Khama Press said on Sunday. In a statement, the Taliban's chief spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said the Taliban tries to regulate all matters "in accordance with the Islamic Sharia and the ruling government cannot allow act against the Sharia" in Afghanistan.
Mujahid also asked Afghanistan's partners and international aid organisations to understand the religious demands in the country and avoid tying humanitarian aid to politics, the Khama Press report added.
After taking over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban imposed several restrictions on females including restricting their freedom of movement, barring girls from attending secondary schools, colleges and universities, excluding women from most areas of the workforce and also banning them from using parks, gyms and public bath houses. The latest two orders of the administration to suspend university education and ban working for aid groups have only worsened the situation for women in the country.
Global governments and rights groups have severely condemned the restrictions, urging the Taliban to reverse them. However, the Islamic Emirate remains defiant.
On Friday, the United States pushed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to adopt a resolution to reverse the ban on Afghan women working for aid groups or attending universities and high schools. The council held a meeting on this day to discuss the decisions taken by the Taliban, and a group of diplomats told the news agency Reuters that the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the security council that given the gravity of the situation, it should unanimously adopt a resolution to condemn the bans and call for an immediate reversal.
Before Friday's meeting, 11 UNSC members including the US, issued a joint statement urging the Taliban to reverse all oppressive measures against females.
Separately, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) executive director Catherine Russell described the Islamic Emirate's ban on women aid workers as both wrong and dangerous and pointed out that without them, lives will be lost, and children will die, Reuters reported. Russell said UNICEF was reviewing the impact of the ban on its work and as the situation evolves, it will have to make difficult decisions as to which activities can continue, and which must be suspended.