With the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan the plight of women is expected to deteriorate further

by Savio Rodrigues

Panaji: You cannot whitewash the truth. The truth is out in the open for all humanity to see. Taliban is a face of Islamic terrorism. It is an Islamic terrorist organisation.

In the first six months of 2021, Taliban turned Afghanistan into a hell hole of violence.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) report reveals shocking data that 56% of all civilian casualties were caused by the Taliban—2,978 is the horrific number for death and injuries.

AIHRC report shows that in 1,594 different security incidents, a total of 5,321 civilians have been killed or injured in the first six months of 2021.

Among these civilian casualties, 1,677 were killed, and 3,644 are injured.

It’s important to note that the total number of civilian casualties in the first six months of 2020 was 2,957, including 1,213 killed and 1,744 injured.

A comparison of the above-mentioned figures shows that civilian casualties have increased by 80% in the first six months of 2021 compared with the first six months of 2020.

The AIHRC report highlighted, “The Taliban is responsible for 2,978 civilian casualties (917 killed, and 2,061 injured) in the first six months of 2021. The war tactics by the Taliban include the use of IEDs, rocket fires, target killing, and ground battles. The number of civilian casualties by the Taliban in the first six months of 2021 compared with the same period in the previous year has been doubled. The Taliban was responsible for 1,438 civilian casualties (542 killed, and 896 injured) in the first six months of 2020.”

The number of women civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2021 is 504 in total, which includes 154 killed, and 350 injured. The number of women civilian casualties in the first six months of 2020 was 297 in total, which included 126 killed, and 171 injured. There has been a 69% rise in women civilian casualties in the first six months of 2021 in comparison with the first six months of 2020. In the first half of 2021, as a result of military approaches of the warring parties in the country 373 children were killed, and 1,083 others were injured.

The number of child casualties in the first six months of 2020 was 630 (225 killed, and 405 injured).

The comparison of the above figures clearly shows that war principles and international humanitarian law have been violated. The number of child casualties increased by 131% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the first six months of 2020.

Afghan women have suffered tremendously in Afghanistan’s violent conflicts and have paid a heavy price. After the fall of the Taliban government, women fought hard to gain equality and secure their basic human rights. They have made great progress on this path and, while they desperately long for peace, they are now fearful that women’s human rights could be a collateral casualty in the acceptance of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Girls’ school attendance in the aftermath of the fall of the earlier Taliban regime spiked as never before. Women are represented in almost every sector in society. More than any other time in the history of Afghanistan, Afghan women are aware of their rights for which they have fought hard and they are determined to preserve and protect them. They also defend their rights, for example by reporting cases of domestic violence in record numbers.

In Afghanistan, the right to life of women is violated in different forms. In addition to deaths as a result of suicide bombings and aerial attacks, and many victims of domestic violence each year, women are deprived of their right to life in extra judicial killings and targeted attacks against them. With the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan the plight of women is expected to deteriorate further.

Globally, women have long been at the frontlines of conflict and crisis, pioneering ways to end conflict, participating in peace, and advocating for the rights of women and girls in agreement seeking to end violent conflict. Yet often, women’s expertise and priorities are excluded from formal ceasefire agreements and implementation mechanisms. In Afghanistan, women continue to risk their lives every day for the sake of peace. 2020 marked the highest number of women killed since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began systematic documentation in 2009.

In her briefing on 6 August 2021 to the United Nations Security Council, Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson, AIHRC, expressed, “My family and I sought refuge in Pakistan when I was a child escaping conflict and Taliban’s repressive regime. 24 or so years later, millions of Afghans are looking for a way out of Afghanistan as they do not see a future here. We cannot wait and watch the history repeating itself.”

She further told the UNSC, “One major, deeply concerning example is the rights of women and girls in areas captured by the Taliban. Women’s access to education, to markets, to basic health services is limited and shrinking. Their basic human rights denied and repressed. Afghan women across Afghanistan are either reliving the nightmare of Taliban area or live in the fear and trauma of reliving it soon, if the tide doesn’t turn and we don’t have an opportunity at negotiations and meaningful participation in them.”

“I am mourning another attack on Afghanistan’s youth. Dawa Khan Mena Pal, a government official working on communications and a man known for his poetry, humor and generosity, was shot in broad daylight in Kabul today. His terror sent a chilling reminder to all civilian government employees as well as journalists and human rights defenders, about the frequency of targeted killings in the midst of raging war. It is also a brutal reminder of Taliban’s refusal to acknowledge government employees as civilians and continue to target and kill them in Kabul, Kandahar, Ghazni and across Afghanistan. This ongoing storm of atrocities has already cost lives and has spread widespread terror and uncertainty, taking us further away from the possibility of peace,” she expressed in anguish at the UNSC briefing.

In his statement, post Taliban seizing control of Afghanistan, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres stated, “We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan. It’s time for the international community to stand, work an act together. We must speak with one voice to uphold human rights. We must unite to make sure Afghanistan is never again used as a safe haven for terrorists.”

The belief that Taliban will overnight transform into a civilized and less radical organization because it is in government is foolhardy. Their foundation is Islamic terrorism. Their grooming is Islamic terrorism. Therefore, their governance will be driven through the lens of Islamic terrorism. It is shocking to say the least that certain sections in the global political arena and media have resorted to painting the Taliban as freedom fighters. They are not freedom fighters, they have only trampled upon the rights of freedom of the people of Afghanistan that are opposed to their rule.

I reiterate, make no mistake, Taliban is an Islamic terror organisation and its intent is to control its territories with an Islamic rule and spread Islamic terrorism globally. It is the main perpetrator of terrorism globally.