Does the US Have Leverage to Advocate for Women’s Rights in Afghanistan?

After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, women’s rights in Afghanistan came under consistent attack by the Taliban, with many women activists captured, tortured, killed and reportedly raped. Unfortunately, the extent of these crimes is unknown due to a lack of comprehensive media coverage. However, the AFINT news channel reports that at least 200 people had been detained, tortured, raped and banned from traveling by the Taliban in the past six months. This number includes 102 women and 98 men, of whom 50 are journalists, 92 are civil activists, two are singers and 40 are prosecutors and judges in the previous government.

Over the past six months, Afghan women have continued to protest against the Taliban policies, provoking a brutal response. One of the detainees told AFINT: “Unfortunately, there is sexual harassment by the Taliban. The Taliban think that a woman who protests for her rights or has worked before they came to power is a prostitute. So, they consider these women as sex slaves.” While it may be impossible to change the Taliban’s mindset, international and regional pressure is key to helping Afghan women and holding the current regime accountable.