Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Member of the European Parliament representing Germany on the platform of the Green Party, writes on the Taliban takeover of power in Afghanistan and the moral debt of the free world to the people of the country
We are all in shock, stunned, following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. We are faced with a state of emergency with the withdrawal of European troops, which confirms the monumental failure that the mission had set itself.
The current situation is a disaster, and will call into question the European Union’s migration policy with regard to refugees. Fear reigns in Afghanistan and lessons will have to be learned.
Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana/Photo: Private
The European Union should show solidarity with all those who had helped to develop human rights. Indeed, Afghan women had contributed to the building of a democratic civil society. They also hoped to open up promising prospects for the generations of women who would follow them.
Indeed, until then, 27% of the 250 seats in the Afghan parliament were reserved for women. Female participation in education increased to over 65%. Millions of girls have been able to attend schools; thousands of young women have been able to go to university. It is also estimated that about 22% of the Afghan workforce is now female and that women were in decision-making positions in politics, the judiciary and the military. More than 200 women were working as judges. By April 2021, there were more than 4,000 women in law enforcement.
All these achievements for women and girls are likely to be lost. It is safe to assume that these rights gained over the past 20 years will be confiscated by the new regime. Despite the Taliban’s, lip service, as suggested by their statement: “Women could work within the limits of Sharia law”
It is likely that this is just a dream. Moreover, even if the Taliban are currently making eyes at the Western countries, one should be wary of their future policy.
It will be “interesting” to see how Sharia law is interpreted. What does it mean? Will the Taliban accept women in decision-making positions? The images of violence on television do not bode well.
According to reports from activists, women have been expelled from their jobs and universities in cities that have fallen under Taliban control. Floggings of women in the countryside have resumed. The same applies to forced marriages, which have already begun in the provinces conquered by the Taliban. Women must now be accompanied by a chaperone when they go out.
It is clear that other outdated traditions such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and outdated behaviour will follow. Afghanistan is a country with a patriarchal tradition. The Taliban are not going to want to lose the control they can exert over women by forcing them into restrictions in education, clothing preference and freedom of movement. Already women’s fashion posters are covered in white paint.
The Afghan people: women, girls and children deserve to live in safety and dignity. Therefore, all forms of discrimination, abuse and violence must be absolutely banned.
What is the state of negotiations between the European Union and neighbouring countries in order to evacuate not only those who have worked with European countries, such as interpreters and translators, but also activists, aid workers and human rights activists who have defended universal values?
We must consider granting humanitarian visas to all these people so that they can be distributed to the various European countries they have served in Afghanistan.
The European Union must provide humanitarian aid and support to Afghans in need of protection. New channels of communication must be found with the Taliban so that they agree to respect the rights of women.
Afghanistan is one of the major beneficiaries of European development aid, at this critical and dramatic moment, what does the European Union intend to do to ensure that human rights, which are universal rights, are not compromised and that the security and dignity of the people, and particularly of Afghan women and girls, are ensured by the new regime?