Richard Bennett, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, asserts that the distrust of Afghan women and girls on the international community “can only be addressed through practical actions, not condemnations and expressions of sympathy.”
Bennett made these remarks on Friday, September 22, during a session titled “Combatting Gender Apartheid” held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
He emphasized, based on Afghan women’s statements, that “despair” has taken hold among Afghan women and girls, and “the global community has betrayed them.”
Bennett stated, “The sense of being forgotten by the international community among Afghan women is palpable. When I met with Afghan women in various places, I sensed a kind of despair in their words. Afghan girls and women believe that the world has betrayed them, that we have betrayed them. This distrust can only be alleviated through practical actions, not condemnations and expressions of sympathy.”
Richard Bennett emphasized that Afghan women should play a meaningful role in political decisions within Afghanistan and in international organizations. He added, “We should talk with Afghan women, not about them.”
According to him, the Taliban have adopted a deliberate policy to undermine the rights of Afghan women.
Recently, human rights activists and supporters of women’s rights have raised numerous requests for the recognition of “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan under Taliban control.
However, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan stated, “Sexual harassment is considered an international crime, but gender apartheid is not the same. Recognizing gender apartheid can establish a principle for international laws that countries not complying with this principle should not be recognized.”
He responded to establishing an accountability system in Afghanistan could help women in the country seek justice, stating, “The International Criminal Court can provide a good platform for accountability through legal proceedings.”
Bennett also proposed that individuals violating human rights should face sanctions.
Naseer Ahmad Faiq, the chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, stated at the outset of this session that the Taliban’s restrictions against women and girls will have a widespread negative impact on Afghan society as a whole.
Faiq mentioned that for the past two years, the Taliban have held Afghanistan “hostage,” creating a humanitarian, economic, and political crisis.
He emphasized that women and girls, constituting half of the population, have suffered the most under Taliban rule, and this situation is nothing short of gender apartheid, which threatens the common values of the international community.
It’s worth noting that on Friday, September 22, the United Nations held its first-ever session to discuss “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan, with representatives from countries and human rights organizations in attendance.
During this session, Richard Bennett, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Rina Amiri, the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights, and several representatives from UN member states delivered speeches.