US intelligence report warns Afghan women’s rights at risk after troop withdrawal


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The National Intelligence Council has estimated that the progress made over the past two decades “probably owes more to external pressure than internal support, suggesting he would be in danger after the coalition pulls out, even without Taliban efforts. to reverse it “.

“Although the fall of the Taliban officially ended some policies (restricting women’s rights), many continue in practice even in government-controlled areas,” he said.

the two page report, declassified at the behest of Senator Jeanne Shaheen, offers a grim assessment as fears grow about the potential degradation of hard-won women’s rights in Afghanistan as US and NATO forces begin their withdrawal after nearly two decades in the field. Biparty lawmakers, activists and women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team have expressed concern that gains could be jeopardized, especially if the withdrawal is completed without a political settlement in place, even as the Biden administration has promised that the United States will remain a diplomatic presence. on the ground.

“Afghanistan’s progress since the end of the Taliban regime towards meeting widely accepted international standards regarding the status of women has been uneven, reflecting cultural norms and conflict,” the report’s authors wrote, noting that the progress were largely centered “in towns and ethnic minority enclaves, where violence is less and where women had more freedom before the Taliban reign.”

“The gains are less pronounced in rural areas, where about 70% of Afghans live,” the report says. “Across the country, child marriage and stoning for adultery persist, and rape victims are being killed by relatives for shaming their families.”

Foreign police was the first to report on the evaluation of the NIC.

A previous US intelligence report estimated that the Afghan government would find it difficult to maintain control without the support of the international military coalition, which President Joe Biden has said will leave by 9/11.

Biden administration officials have warned that the Taliban will not achieve international legitimacy by seizing power by force or limiting women’s rights.

“If the Taliban have any hope of gaining international acceptance, of not being treated like pariahs, they will have to respect the rights of women and girls,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in an interview with ABC News halfway through. April. “Any country that backs down on this, that tries to suppress them, will not have this international recognition, will not have this international status, and indeed, we will take steps to ensure to the best of our ability that they can’t. do that. “

However, the NIC report found that while “the Taliban’s” desires for help and legitimacy might moderate his conduct slightly over time, “it is likely that” in the early days of his emirate’s recovery, the Taliban would likely focus on extending control on its own terms. “

Report says Taliban approach to women’s rights has not changed

He said that the Taliban’s approach to women’s rights has not changed and that “ if the Taliban were once again the dominant power in Afghanistan, we believe that any prospect of moderation of the policies of the group with regard to women would depend on the ability of ethnic minorities to sustain local variations and technological development since the former Taliban regime. “

Biparty senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week expressed concerns about a potential backlash for women’s rights in Afghanistan during a hearing with the United States Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, last week,

“We have worked for two decades alongside our allies to advance the rights not only of women and girls, but also of other ethnic minorities in Afghanistan. And we cannot let these two decades of hard work be ignored in the peace talks. We owe it to women and girls to ensure that their hard-fought rights are preserved, ”said Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire and the only woman on the committee. “Unfortunately, I believe that an arbitrary deadline for … our withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan risks these efforts.”

Khalilzad said the issue was “important to (him) personally,” having played “a small role as ambassador to Afghanistan in the early 2000s by encouraging the adoption of constitutional provisions that contributed to women’s rights” and fighting “for the inclusion of women in the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic.”

“We also insist that women be included in any future peace effort,” he said.

In a CNN opinion piece published after the announcement of Biden’s withdrawal, three female members of the Afghan government negotiating team warned that “if the Taliban does not believe that the United States is firmly committed to a Stable and democratic Afghanistan, that could create problems for our future talks. “

“Although the Taliban may deride women as pledges for a human rights program implemented in Western capitals, they are wrong. And the threat they and their allies pose to us remains very real, ”Dr. Habiba Sarabi, Fawzia Koofi and Sharifa Zurmati wrote.

“We insist because we know that an inclusive Afghanistan is the only way to a lasting and just peace and an end to the war. We are not alone: ​​women from all walks of life do not want to go back to a time when their basic principles and rights counted for nothing, ”they wrote.

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