On Wednesday, the UN released a report that showed that more than two years after they were promised access to 43 detained women, none have been allowed to talk with them in Afghanistan. The 43 are known as “the disappeared” because their families have no idea where they are or what happened to them.
As former Taliban members have said one woman was executed and another died while being tortured by Taliban members for her work with children. This has led human rights advocates to call on the Taliban to release all 43 civil society workers it has imprisoned illegally without charge or trial since September 2010. They insist that some are at risk of physical harm or death.
The Taliban has stated that they are willing to talk about the situation of the 43 women, as long as foreign forces stop harassing and detaining illegal immigrants. They claim that if this happens then they will release some of the women back into society.
Two years ago, a UN report on violence against Afghan women found that more than 85% of those cases go unreported and unprosecuted. As such, it is likely that any woman released would not feel safe enough to rejoin civil society. Representatives from Amnesty International have said that ending violence against human rights defenders is crucial for progress in Afghanistan.
“In fact, so fundamental is respect for the rights of all Afghans – including those who work bravely as activists or journalists – to life and liberty, that their protection should be a non-negotiable pre-condition in peace talks,” said Horia Mosadiq, an Afghan researcher for Amnesty International.
The UN released the report as part of its effort to convince the Taliban to end violence against women and girls when it is in power. Now that the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan , they hope that peace negotiations can move forward with all sides having a positive view of human rights in the country. In 2012 alone, over 600 cases were documented regarding attacks on media workers and more than half of those were murdered.
A radio station director for Shaista radio was killed by gunmen last week , while another local radio station’s female manager was shot and wounded in June . Only this July did the Taliban execute a woman in Parwan province for having an affair.