The Taliban is continuing to adopt policies oppressing women, in part as a substitute for addressing the acute economic crisis and failure of inclusive governance in Afghanistan, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in Washington.
He spoke after the Taliban published a decree in May ordering women to cover their faces in public, and ideally wear the all-encompassing burqa. The order is another signal of a return by the Taliban to the harsh restrictions the group put on women the last time it held power, two decades ago. The decree also urges women to stay inside unless necessary for important work, and it outlines punishments for male relatives in cases where women fail to comply with the new dress code, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
The directive followed the Taliban’s March 23 decision to bar girls from accessing education after the 6th grade.
State Department Spokesperson Price joined many in the international community in expressing “deep concern” over the Taliban’s recently expressed policies toward women and girls. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West tweeted, “The Taliban’s policies toward women are an affront to human rights and will negatively impact their relations with the international community.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “alarmed” by the Taliban’s decree, and he urged the Taliban “to keep their promises to Afghan women and girls.”
Spokesperson Price noted that after the Taliban seized power in August, they made commitments to the international community and, most importantly, to the Afghan people, to respect the rights of women and girls. The United States, he declared, will work with its allies and partners to increase pressure on the Taliban for their failures to live up to their promises. “We’ve addressed it directly with the Taliban,” he said. As Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield told CNN May 8, “We have done everything possible to support Afghan women, and we’ll continue to call out the Taliban for their actions.” She noted that this action redoubles our commitment to supporting Afghan women moving forward.
“In the meantime, the United States continues to be the world’s largest humanitarian provider to the Afghan people, observed Spokesperson Price. “We’ll continue, even in the midst of the setbacks on the part of the Taliban, to do all we can…to support directly the Afghan people in a way that doesn’t benefit the Taliban.”