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Afghanistan: Stop Punishing Women Protesters

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Neda Parwani, Parisa Azada, Manizha Seddiqi, and Zholia Parsi were arbitrarily arrested from their homes on the 9th of September, the 27th of September, and the 9th of October respectively. It is reported that Zholia Parsi, Neda Parwani, and Parisa Azada are held in the Taliban District 40 detention; however, Manizha Seddiqi is sent to Pol Charkhi prison on the 5th of December 2023. On the 4th of December, it was reported that Zholia Parsi was taken to hospital and back to prison due to a deteriorated health condition which could be the result of torture and ill-treatment.

Since taking control of Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban de facto authorities have increasingly violated the rights of women and girls, prohibiting their political participation and involvement in public life. The policies adopted by the Taliban de facto authorities have curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, as well as the rights to equality and non-discrimination. Despite this, women have led peaceful protests against the Taliban in various Afghan cities, including Kabul, Faizabad, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif.  

Women organising or participating in those protests have been subjected to unlawful use of force, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. In August 2023, at least eight members of the Women’s National Unity and Solidarity Movement were arrested and detained for several hours because they were organising protests. During protests, women protesters are subjected to verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation, and threats by armed Taliban agents, who greatly outnumber the protesters and routinely destroy or confiscate banners, leaflets, and other information materials of the protesters. Additionally, some journalists reporting on these protests have been subject to arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment. 

The Taliban de facto authorities have also followed women post-protests to arrest them. Several women have been arrested at gunpoint in their homes or in safe houses, often violently. Some of the women’s male relatives have also been severely beaten by Taliban actors at the time of the arrests. Women arrested have been detained incommunicado and repeatedly subject to torture or other forms of ill-treatment.  


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