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Statement from 5 Afghan Women’s NGOs: Our rights are human rights

Equality Now is sharing a proclamation to the international community by five Afghan Women’s NGOs, who have shared this anonymously to protect their members.

Do not recognize a regime that does not respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Today we, the women’s rights activists of Afghanistan, many of us survivors of the first Taliban regime, reflect with empty hearts upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Seventy-three years after the Declaration was adopted by the international community, our rights have been robbed by an insurgent group, one which had no legal, political or moral mandate to negotiate about the faith of our country or the destinies of its people, and which is now using all means to gain international recognition for their criminal all-male cabinet.

During the first Taliban regime we lived as prisoners in our homes, careful not to break the countless rules that the Taliban imposed on women. Our sisters were beaten, stoned and shot to death by Taliban members. We celebrated the day when the regime was defeated. We worked for human rights, women’s rights and democracy, so that those who come after us could live in freedom and peace.

Today the nightmare has returned. We have lost our right to walk on the streets without a male companion, and our rights to work, study, speak publicly and live life as human beings. In today’s Afghanistan, professional women are shot to death by the Taliban in front of their children, girls are forced to marry Taliban fighters, and women are forced to leave their schools and workplaces. The women who demonstrate against the Taliban are physically attacked by this regime.

The Taliban might have taken over the country, but they have not taken over our hearts, souls, minds and spirits. Our rights are human rights. We have worked for our rights for years – many of us for decades. We are not ready to give up on these rights, and we urge the international community not to compromise, but to stand with us, united and strong.

We urge the international community to take the following actions to protect our rights against the worst forms of discrimination, violence and persecution:

  1. Refuse to recognize the Taliban regime, or any other Afghan regime, that does not commit both to the letter and the spirit of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the Government of Afghanistan in 2003. The CEDAW is a commitment to end all discrimination against women, including “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
  2. Take urgent and decisive action to establish the strongest possible mechanism to document, monitor, report and analyze the Taliban´s severe human rights violations. Before their takeover of Kabul on August 15th, Taliban forces were already committing atrocities, including forced marriages, sexual and physical assaults of civilians and summary executions of government officials and security force members in their custody. In Kabul since then, they have raided homes of journalists and activists, physically assaulted civilians in public places, and executed people who have criticized them in the past. We urge the UN member countries and the international community to stand up for our human rights in this grave situation, and immediately put in place the strongest possible monitoring mechanism for the Taliban´s human rights violations.
  3. Urge the ICC to continue their investigation – stalled during March 2020 – into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, and act to ensure that the prosecutor has the mandate, resources and information needed to proceed with urgency.
  4. Call on all governments, NGOs and responsible authorities to act together in the higher interests of humanity and put an end to gender-related persecution and discrimination. Use all political, economic and diplomatic power to pressure the Afghans to form a government committed to the CEDAW convention, democracy and minority rights, in a process that fully includes Afghan women peacebuilders. The international community achieved remarkable success in liberating South Africa from racist tyranny. Today we appeal to the world to use that success as an inspiration to stand in solidarity and work with us to liberate Afghanistan from a misogynist tyranny that has no political, juridical or moral legitimacy, and that cannot be justified on cultural or religious grounds.


Five Afghan women’s rights NGOs, working across the country, dedicated to protection and promotion of the rights of women in Afghanistan. We sign this petition anonymously to protect our members.