State Department Asks Taliban to Respect Women’s Rights

State Department Asks Taliban to Respect Women's Rights

( – The main news story recently has been the military and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. After the Taliban’s capture of the capital Kabul and the swift resignation and escape of ex-President Ashraf Ghani, chaos quickly ensued. Thousands of Afghans are now desperately scrambling to get out of the country.

Sticking to its policy of disengagement from the region, the Biden administration is now attempting to use diplomacy to make things better for Afghans. But it’s hard to imagine he will be able to do that when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin doesn’t even know how he will get all Americans out of the country. And, of course, terrorist organizations are not known for being diplomatic.

Asking the Taliban to Play Nice With Women

On Wednesday, August 18, the US State Department released a joint statement with 20 other nations, imploring the Taliban to treat Afghanistan’s females with respect. The statement stressed women must have the right to work, receive education, and move freely. Before the US invasion, these female entitlements did not exist when the Taliban previously took charge of the country.

It appears highly likely this plea will fall on deaf ears. In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of various Afghan cities, reports emerged that the militia’s representatives forced women out of their jobs in banking and other industries. They told the women male relations could fill their roles and directed them to return home. In some instances, the Taliban fighters were armed, and women who refused to comply with their directives suffered beatings.

Additional reports have recently emerged that the Taliban has perpetrated sex crimes and other abuses against women and girls. Fighters have gone so far as to kill women for their refusal to wear an Islamic veil.

Will the Taliban Change?

Representatives of the Taliban have claimed the group has modernized over the last two decades. The organization claims it’s not the same fundamentalist force the US ousted in 2001. Representatives have described a new interpretation of Sharia law that would allow women to work and attend school, with certain limitations. The group also claims discrimination and violence against women will not be features of its new regime.

Efforts by the US and other Western powers to engage in diplomacy with the Taliban suggest there might be some small hope this narrative is true. However, stories like those above are a clear indication little has changed. Many conservatives, like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have openly scoffed at the idea. Especially when viewed in the context of perceived military failures by the Biden administration.

If we’re to leave the war in Afghanistan behind, our leaders may have no choice but to try to maintain diplomatic relations with the Taliban. However, it’s questionable how effective this effort will be.

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