The UN said Tuesday that the International Criminal Court should recognize gender discrimination in Afghanistan as a crime against humanity.
“The legal opinion we have received shows that the denial of education to Afghan girls and employment to Afghan women is gender discrimination, which should count as a crime against humanity, and it should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court,” said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former UK prime minister, as he discussed the current state of the issue of girls’ education in Afghanistan at a UN news conference.
He said 54 of 80 edicts issued by the Taliban explicitly target women and girls and deprive them of their rights.
The Taliban recently issued additional bans on women and girls’ participation in university exams and on visits to public places, including cemeteries and other activities, he said.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has become the “feared ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice” and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has been dissolved.
For that reason, “the International Criminal Court should recognize this gender discrimination as a crime against humanity and investigate with a view to the arraignment and prosecution of those responsible,” Brown emphasized.
Brown called for the release of NGO leaders in prison, who are imprisoned for defending women’s and girls’ rights and urged the international community to show that education can get through to the people of Afghanistan.
– Muslim countries need to show that Islam is favorable to girls’ education, Brown says
He urged Muslim-majority countries to support a delegation to clerics of Kandahar to persuade them to remove a ban on girls’ education and women’s employment, “which has no basis in the Quran or the Islamic religion.”
This is not about one religion against another but about “uniting to say that the clerics in Kandahar have misunderstood what the religious teaching of Islam is on this issue of girls education,” he said.
If religious clerics were able to show that Islam is actually favorable to girls’ education and that Afghanistan cannot succeed as a country if it denies half its potential citizens the right to education, we can make progress, added Brown.
The Taliban, which returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, have disallowed Afghan women from higher education and work in many areas of the public sector.