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Business News/ News / World/  Make gender apartheid a crime under international law: Afghan, Iranian women
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Make gender apartheid a crime under international law: Afghan, Iranian women

The campaign has been launched on International Women's Day, 8 March, reiterating the need for women to be able to exercise their basic human rights without hiding in fear.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 23, 2023, Afghan burqa-clad women walk past a market at Fayzabad district, in Badakhshan province. - Mahbouba Seraj is a rare dissenting voice in Afghanistan, but the veteran activist has begun to doubt whether the world is listening when she speaks out against the Taliban government's abuses. (Photo by OMER ABRAR / AFP) / To go with AFP story Afghanistan-Women-Seraj, Profile by Joe STENSON (AFP)Premium
(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 23, 2023, Afghan burqa-clad women walk past a market at Fayzabad district, in Badakhshan province. - Mahbouba Seraj is a rare dissenting voice in Afghanistan, but the veteran activist has begun to doubt whether the world is listening when she speaks out against the Taliban government's abuses. (Photo by OMER ABRAR / AFP) / To go with AFP story Afghanistan-Women-Seraj, Profile by Joe STENSON (AFP)

Women in Afghanistan and Iran continue to fight for basic human rights, or what the united Nations term as ‘gender apartheid’. The reality of it struck when a 22 year old Mahsa Amini died after allegedly being beaten up by Iran's Moral Police for ‘not wearing the Hijab properly’. 

The Taliban rule in Afghanistan since 2021 has also squeezed out women fromt he public domain. Women have been removed from many government jobs or are paid a fraction of their former salary to stay at home. They are also barred from going to parks, fairs, gyms and public baths, and must cover up in public. 

Amid such conditions, a prominent group in both the countries backed by women have sought that the ‘gender apartheid’ be termed crime under international law, according to a report by Guardian

The campaign has been launched on International Women's Day, 8 March, reiterating the need for women to be able to exercise their basic human rights without hiding in fear. 

The campaign is also reflective of the systemic failure the current law system covering discrimination against women has become. 

Signatories of the open letter include the Iranian Nobel peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi; the first female deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, Fawzia Koofi; a commissioner of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Benafsha Yaqoobi; as well as many activists still fighting for their rights in Afghanistan and Iran, the Guardian report added. 

While there is a crime of apartheid in international law, it applies only to racial groups, not to gender.

The word apartheid comes from the Afrikaans word for “apart" and was first used to describe the treatment of black people in South Africa under white minority rule from 1948 to the early 1990s.

The letter argues that under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan are banned from education, employment in NGOs and in government, and from travelling long distances without a male guardian, all while having to abide by a severe dress code.

The authors of the letter say they are not being discriminatory against the norms of Muslim societies, or seeking to impose western cultural values, but are instead addressing systematic attempts to subjugate women that have no place in any society, regardless of religion.

Increasingly, leading Muslim politicians and clerics in Gulf states and populous Muslim states such as Indonesia are willing to criticise the Taliban’s refusal to allow girls above secondary school age to be educated, saying there is nothing in the Qur’an or Muslim religious teaching that permits women to be held back in this way.

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Published: 08 Mar 2023, 10:01 PM IST
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